• Could Cocoa Help Prevent Memory Loss?

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  • A glass of hot cocoa may accomplish more than keep you warm on an icy winter night. Chocolate is rich in antioxidants which helps avoid cardiovascular disease and helps the body battle against free radicals that can harm cells. Check out this article from Collective Evolution that explains the details below.

    Cocoa contains bioactive ingredients -called flavanols –which have the ability to reverse memory decline that comes with age, according to a new study published by the journal Nature Neuroscience.

    The new study was applied on a group of volunteers aged 50 to 69, after having a daily cup of specially-prepared cocoa. The scientists at Columbia University Medical Center (CUMC) that published the results found that increasing dietary cocoa flavanols can improve brain function and even lead to better scores in memory tests.

    The team of scientists, who were led by Adam M. Brickman of Columbia University’s Taub Institute for Research on Alzheimer’s Disease and the Aging Brain, said that this study is the first to reveal a ‘causal link’ between ingested flavanols and changes in memory and brain function.

    cocoa

    Memory tests were executed before and after the volunteers started with the drink. Age-related memory decline is linked to the dentate gyrus region of the hippocampus which is a different part of the brain than the one affecting people with early Alzheimer’s or other neurodegenerative diseases. The dentate gyrus is the region of memory formation whose performance typically declines as one ages.

    According to the study, a group of 37 healthy volunteers aged from 50 to 69 were randomly divided in two. The first one drank the cocoa with 900mg of flavanols, while the other with only 10mg. The experiment lasted for 3 months.

    The Huffington Post reported:

    “The high-flavanol group notched up major memory improvements and an increase in blood flow to the dentate gyrus.”

    The senior author Scott Small, a professor of neurology at Columbia University’s Medical Center in New York, said in a press release:

    “If a participant had the memory of a typical 60-year-old at the beginning of the study, after three months that person on average had the memory of a typical 30 or 40-year-old.

    I suppose that our study does show, for the first time, that flavanols improves the function of humans’ dentate gyrus, particularly in ageing humans.”

    However Professor Small also warned that much larger studies are needed to confirm the findings. So, the next step for the researchers is to test it on larger groups in order to better understand the relationship between flavanols, the hippocampus, and memory. You can find out about the experiment in the following video:

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