Chocolate Can Boost Communication Between Brain Cells
A team of research scientists from the Harvard Medical School, publishing the results of a study in the journal, Neurology, have found that drinking two cups of hot chocolate a day may keep the brain healthy and prevent memory decline in older people by preserving blood flow in working areas of the brain. The researchers were working to analyze the effect of cocoa consumption on thinking and memory performance, as well as something called neurovascular coupling, where blood flow in the brain changes in response to local brain activity.
The study detailed 60 people with no detectable markers for Alzheimer’s disease and an average age of 73 years. Each participant drank two cups of hot cocoa for 30 days, and consumed no other form of chocolate during the study period. Each then submitted to tests designed to assess memory and thinking skills, and received a battery of ultrasound tests to quantify the amount of blood flow to the brain during the tests.
Cocoa Antioxidants Boosts Brain Cell Communication to Improve Memory and Brain Health
The lead study author, Dr. Farzaneh Sorond noted, “As different areas of the brain need more energy to complete their tasks, they also need greater blood flow. This relationship, called neurovascular coupling, may play an important role in diseases such as Alzheimer’s.” Researchers found that of the 18 participants with impaired blood flow to the brain at the study outset, 8.3 percent experienced significant improvement in blood flow to the working areas of the brain by the end of the study. These people also improved their times on a test of working memory, with scores dropping from 167 seconds at the beginning of the study to 116 seconds at the end.
Dr. Sorond concluded, “There is a strong correlation between neurovascular coupling and cognitive function, and both can be improved by regular cocoa consumption in individuals with baseline impairments. Better neurovascular coupling is also associated with greater white matter structural integrity.” This study did not indicate the cocoa content of the consumed beverage, but past research projects have shown that chocolate products with higher cocoa concentrations (70 percent cocoa or higher) contain a potent mix of flavonoid antioxidants that promote heart health and improve cognition and memory to help prevent Alzheimer’s dementia.
There is little doubt that the gradual decline in memory and cognitive function that can be the first signs of pending dementia and Alzheimer’s disease is one of the most serious health problems facing millions of aging adults in most western societies. What is even more staggering is that many people accept this potentially fatal decline as acceptable, in spite of the well documented nutritional and scientific studies showing that many memory lapses are not considered a normal part of aging and can be prevented by adopting healthy lifestyle practices at any age.
Additional sources for this article include:
John Phillip is a Certified Nutritional Consultant and diet, health and nutrition researcher and author with a passion for understanding weight loss challenges and encouraging health modification through natural diet, lifestyle and targeted supplementation. John’s passion is to research and write about the cutting edge alternative health technologies that affect our lives. Discover the latest alternative health news concerning diabetes, heart disease, cancer, dementia and weight loss at My Optimal Health Resource