We’ve got (relatively) good news for chocolate lovers: a new study by Columbia University suggests that flavanol, a natural compound in cocoa, tea and several vegetables, can reverse age-related memory loss in older adults.
The study showed that flavanols from cocoa beans were able to increase connectivity and consequently, blood flow to the dentate gyrus – the part of your brain that deals with memory formation. Flavanols also appear to increase the connectivity and metabolic activity in this region of the brain, which is good news given that aging does the reverse by reducing the connections between neurons in the dentate gyrus.
But don’t reach for the nearest Mars bar just yet – regular chocolate bars only contain tiny amounts of flavanol, so they’re not the answer just yet. Unfortunately, most of the cocoa-pressing methods we use today remove a significant amount of this compound in the cocoa. For this study, however, Mars was able to produce a cocoa flavanol drink test designed specifically for it.
The researchers said that “if a person had the memory of a typical 60-year-old at the beginning of the study, after three months, on average, that person’s memory would function more like a 30- or 40-year-old’s.” More work is needed due the small sample size of 37 subjects, but it is encouraging evidence that diet and lifestyle choices positively impact our health and memory.
Source: Washington Post