Two cups of hot chocolate a day could help keep the brain healthy, a recent study finds.
The research involved 60 people whose average age was 73.
They were given tests of memory and thinking skills and the blood flow in their brains was measured.
Dr Farzaneh A. Sorond, the study’s first author, said:
“We’re learning more about blood flow in the brain and its effect on thinking skills.
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.”
Half the people in the study were given hot cocoa rich in an antioxidant called flavanol.
The other half received flavanol-poor cocoa.
Both groups continued to have hot cocoa every day for two a month.
The results showed that people who had impaired blood flow in the brain improved after drinking the flavanol-rich cocoa.
People with impaired blood flow also improved on tests of memory and thinking skills.
There was no improvement for people with normal blood flow.
Dr Paul B. Rosenberg, who wrote an editorial accompanying the study, said:
“More work is needed to prove a link between cocoa, blood flow problems and cognitive decline.
But this is an important first step that could guide future studies.”
The study was published in the journal Neurology (Sorond et al., 2013).
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Brain image from Shutterstock