Chocolate may help keep brain healthy

August 7, 2013
Chocolate
Chocolate. Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Drinking two cups of hot chocolate a day may help older people keep their brains healthy and their thinking skills sharp, according to a study published in the August 7, 2013, online issue of Neurology, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology.

The study involved 60 people with an average age of 73 who did not have . The participants drank two cups of hot cocoa per day for 30 days and did not consume any other chocolate during the study. They were given tests of memory and . They also had ultrasounds tests to measure the amount of blood flow to the brain during the tests.

"We're learning more about blood flow in the brain and its effect on thinking skills," said study author Farzaneh A. Sorond, MD, PhD, of Harvard Medical School in Boston and a member of the American Academy of Neurology. "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."

Of the 60 participants, 18 had impaired blood flow at the start of the study. Those people had an 8.3-percent improvement in the blood flow to the working areas of the brain by the end of the study, while there was no improvement for those who started out with regular blood flow.

The people with impaired blood flow also improved their times on a test of , with scores dropping from 167 seconds at the beginning of the study to 116 seconds at the end. There was no change in times for people with regular blood flow.

A total of 24 of the participants also had MRI scans of the brain to look for tiny areas of . The scans found that people with impaired blood flow were also more likely to have these areas of brain damage.

Half of the received hot cocoa that was rich in the antioxidant flavanol, while the other half received flavanol-poor hot cocoa. There were no differences between the two groups in the results.

"More work is needed to prove a link between cocoa, problems and cognitive decline," said Paul B. Rosenberg, MD, of Johns Hopkins School of Medicine in Baltimore, who wrote an editorial accompanying the study. "But this is an important first step that could guide future studies."

Explore further: Anemia linked to increased risk of dementia

Related Stories

Anemia linked to increased risk of dementia

July 31, 2013
Anemia, or low levels of red blood cells, may increase the risk of dementia, according to a study published in the July 31, 2013, online issue of Neurology, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology.

Migraine is associated with variations in structure of brain arteries

July 27, 2013
The network of arteries supplying blood flow to the brain is more likely to be incomplete in people who suffer migraine, a new study by researchers in the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania reports. ...

Are cardiac risk factors linked to less blood flow to the brain?

July 18, 2012
Metabolic syndrome, a term used to describe a combination of risk factors that often lead to heart disease and type 2 diabetes, seems to be linked to lower blood flow to the brain, according to research by the University ...

Even in normal range, high blood sugar linked to brain shrinkage

September 3, 2012
People whose blood sugar is on the high end of the normal range may be at greater risk of brain shrinkage that occurs with aging and diseases such as dementia, according to new research published in the September 4, 2012, ...

People with MS-related memory and attention problems have signs of extensive brain damage

March 6, 2013
People with multiple sclerosis (MS) who have cognitive problems, or problems with memory, attention, and concentration, have more damage to areas of the brain involved in cognitive processes than people with MS who do not ...

Recommended for you

'Residual echo' of ancient humans in scans may hold clues to mental disorders

July 26, 2017
Researchers at the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) have produced the first direct evidence that parts of our brains implicated in mental disorders may be shaped by a "residual echo" from our ancient past. The more ...

Cellular roots of anxiety identified

July 26, 2017
From students stressing over exams to workers facing possible layoffs, worrying about the future is a normal and universal experience. But when people's anticipation of bad things to come starts interfering with daily life, ...

Laser used to reawaken lost memories in mice with Alzheimer's disease

July 26, 2017
(Medical Xpress)—A team of researchers at Columbia University has found that applying a laser to the part of a mouse brain used for memory storage caused the mice to recall memories lost due to a mouse version of Alzheimer's ...

Brain disease seen in most football players in large report

July 25, 2017
Research on 202 former football players found evidence of a brain disease linked to repeated head blows in nearly all of them, from athletes in the National Football League, college and even high school.

Zebrafish study reveals clues to healing spinal cord injuries

July 25, 2017
Fresh insights into how zebrafish repair their nerve connections could hold clues to new therapies for people with spinal cord injuries.

Lutein may counter cognitive aging, study finds

July 25, 2017
Spinach and kale are favorites of those looking to stay physically fit, but they also could keep consumers cognitively fit, according to a new study from University of Illinois researchers.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.