Chocolate and Cognitive Ability
Chocolate is mostly known for its use in romantic expressions. However, more and more research is proving that the benefits of cocoa go beyond emotional matters of the heart. Most of these studies are focused on the health benefits of chocolate and cacao (cacao is the primary ingredient in chocolate and in this article referenced thus forward as the colloquial cocoa).
Cocoa flavanols are good for the aged
Several studies have indicated that a group of antioxidants called flavanols found in cocoa have a positive effect on the thinking and problem solving ability of a healthy person. One search study was published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition of December 17 2014. In this study, a group of 90 healthy individuals aged between 61 to 85 years were put on different daily doses of cocoa flavanols.
- First group – low flavanol dose of 48 mg
- Second group – medium dose of flavanol of 520mg
- Third group – high flavanol dose at 993mg
After 8 weeks, the group was exposed to cognitive tests relevant to their age. The overall results indicated a marked improvement on all the groups. However, the degree of improvement was directly related to the amount of flavanol consumed. Those who took the highest doses had the greatest improvement followed by those who took the intermediate dose. The low flavanol dose group showed the lowest improvement.
The authors of the study concluded that regular intake of cocoa flavanols helps to reduce cognitive problems related with the aging process.
Cocoa flavanols in mild cognitive impairment
Cocoa flavanols are not only good for aged cognitively healthy subjects but it is also beneficial in adults with mild problems in that aspect. In another study published in the American Heart Association – Hypertension publication of August 12 2012 the authors proved this fact through data analysis consisting of 90 test subjects. These were adults referred to the Alzheimer’s clinic because of their reduced cognitive powers.
The elaborate study concluded that there was evidence that cocoa flavanols improved cognition as one of the main benefits. They also observed that these benefits were realized in a relatively short period of time. The other benefits included improved cardiovascular functions. Improved vascular health and a lowering of blood pressure were the most noticeable benefits in the heart system.
How cocoa flavanols improve cognition
Improved cognition is a benefit that follows recognized positive effects of the flavanol in cocoa. Studies indicate that flavanols:
- Improve vascular functions
- Lowers blood pressure
- Enhance brain and heart blood flow
- Improve brain cells connectivity
- Reduce the viscosity of blood and therefor the risk of clots
- Reduce cell damage by excess circulating free radicals
These flavanol benefits have been confirmed in laboratory animal tests by a neuro-scientist - Dr. Miguel Alonso-Alonso at the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center.
Cocoa flavanols also support good insulin metabolism. This in turn has a wide range of benefits that include a balanced blood sugar level and vascular health. This has a direct positive effect on the brain and hence cognitive ability.
How to get your cocoa flavanols
Most beverage cocoa has very little cocoa in it. The manufacturing process further reduces the available flavanols. To overcome this nutritional hurdle, use good quality dark chocolate. Look for a source that gives the highest amount of cocoa per gram.
We encourage you to read the science behind this research and to learn more here:
Excellent resource and worth following ( alz.org ): http://www.alznorcalblog.org/2013/08/08/chocolate-reduce-risk-alzheimers/
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