Antioxidant-rich naturally occurring dietary compounds present in cocoa could help reverse age-related memory decline in otherwise healthy seniors, claims research led by Columbia University Clinic (CUMC) and published Sunday in the journal Nature Neuroscience.
In research supported by Mars Inc., a worldwide food manufacturer known largely for its chocolate and candy products, senior author Dr. Scott A. Small , colleagues from several other US universities recruited 37 healthy volunteers between the ages of 50 and 69. Each study participant randomly received an eating plan that was either high in dietary cocoa flavanols (900mg per day) or a low-flavanol diet (10mg) for three months.
Brain imaging and memory tests were administered to each subject both pre and post the research, the researchers said. The mind imaging measured blood volume in a part of the hippocampal formation referred to as dentate gyrus, a measure of metabolism, and the memory test involved a 20-minute session of pattern-recognition exercises designed to evaluate the type of memory controlled by this particular brain structure.
According to Rosa Silverman from the Telegraph, “those who had consumed a higher dose performed much faster than those who received a low dose.” The difference, she explained, is considered to be caused by an increase in blood volume within the dentate gyrus directly due to the higher intake of cocoa flavanols. Previous research had linked a decline in function in that region of the brain during old age to gradual loss of memory.
“When we imaged our research subjects’ brains, we found noticeable improvements within the purpose of the dentate gyrus in people who consumed the high-cocoa-flavanol drink,” Dr. Adam M. Brickman, lead author of the study and an associate professor of neuropsychology at Columbia University’s for Research on Alzheimer’s Disease and also the Aging Brain, said inside a statement.
Specifically, Dr. Small told New York Times reporter Pam Belluck the people in the high-flavanol group performed an average of 25 % better around the memory test than their low-flavanol counterparts. Which means their results were about just like people who were two to three decades younger, the CUMC researcher noted.
“If a participant had the memory of the 60-year-old at the beginning of the research, after three months that individual on average had the memory of a typical 30- or 40-year-old,” Dr. Small said. However, also, he cautioned that their study was small, which the findings must be replicated inside a forthcoming larger study planned by his team.
“This well-designed but small study suggests the antioxidants present in cocoa can improve cognitive performance by improving blood circulation to some certain region from the brain,” said Dr. Clare Walton, research manager in the Alzheimer’s Society, based on the Daily Mail. “The brain region is known to be affected in ageing, but as yet we don’t know whether these brain changes take part in dementia.”
Likewise, Dr. Simon Ridley, head of research at Alzheimer’s Research UK, said that people should not look at the study findings like a sign to stockpile chocolate bars, because the supplement used in the study was specially formulated from cocoa beans. Actually, the researchers noticed that most methods of processing cocoa actually remove many of the flavanols found in the cocoa plant itself C they ought to be specially extracted utilizing a proprietary process.
“The precise formulation used in the CUMC study has additionally been shown to improve cardiovascular health. Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston recently announced an NIH-funded study of 18,000 men and women to determine whether flavanols can help prevent heart attacks and strokes,” the university explained. “The researchers explain the product used in the research is not the just like chocolate, and they caution against a rise in chocolate consumption so that they can gain this effect.”