Diets rich in cocoa flavanols or bioactives found in cocoa, can help arrest age-related memory decline like dementia or Alzheimer’s in adults, a study shows.
“The results of this study are encouraging – they support the idea that diet, and specifically a diet rich in cocoa flavanols, can play an important role in maintaining cognitive health as we age,” said Giovambattista Desideri from the University of L’Aquila in Italy.
The Italian varsity study involved both men and women aged between 61 and 85 years. The participants were assigned to one of three flavanol groups, consuming a drink containing either high (993 mg), or intermediate (520 mg) or low (48 mg) amounts of cocoa flavanols daily for 8 weeks or two months.
Among those individuals who regularly consumed either the high- or intermediate-flavanol drinks, there were significant improvements in overall cognitive function after eight weeks.
As cognitive function was normal for this aged population, the study showed that even cognitively healthy individuals can quickly benefit from the regular inclusion of cocoa flavanols in their diets.
The researchers earlier found cognitive and cardio-metabolic benefits of habitual cocoa flavanol consumption in older adults who had been diagnosed with mild cognitive impairment (MCI).
The new research trial was carried out with a special cocoa flavanol test product, designed to deliver a standardised amount of flavanols within a nutritionally suitable drink.
Flavanol content of commercially available chocolate is variable and, given its macro-nutrient profile, it is not recommended as a health food. The study was published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.
In a similar research in 2010, research from University of California found that flavanols may increase a population of certain cells in the blood that scientists think help to repair the inner walls of blood vessels, improving blood flow and potentially lowering blood pressure.