Cocoa's true brain benefits revealed

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Cocoa's true brain benefits revealed

In older adults, a diet enriched with cocoa flavanols may help improve memory, but the benefits of supplementation are limited and generally do not improve brain health. The true benefits of cocoa and chocolate are revealed in an article published in Scientific Reports.

Columbia and New York University recruited 211 healthy people aged 50 to 75 for a study that lasted 12 weeks. They first performed a series of cognitive tests to assess thinking and memory, and a subgroup of volunteers had an MRI scan to measure blood flow in the brain. During the trial itself, participants were divided into four groups based on the amount of supplements they received.

The first group was the control group and received a placebo, the second received 260 milligrams of flavanols per day, and the third and fourth – 510 and 770 milligrams of flavanols per day, respectively.

While the researchers found that by the end of the study, those on the high-flavanol diet performed better at memorizing the list compared to the placebo group, they found no relationship between supplement intake and performance on the other two cognitive tests. There was also no effect of flavanols on blood flow in the brain.

Although cocoa beans are used to make chocolate, chocolate is not a reliable source of flavanol compounds, and the study results do not suggest that eating chocolate is beneficial for cognitive health.

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