Most individuals notice a steady decline in memory as they age, but a new study suggests that this memory large can be reversed. According to a recent study published in Nature Neuroscience, naturally occurring flavanols found in cocoa may reverse memory decline by as much as 20 or even 30 years.
The study wasn’t conducted simply using raw cocoa or chocolate, but rather a lab-created cocoa drink. Eager to find out if flavanols in cocoa beans could positively impact human memory as it has done in mice in past studies, researchers from Columbia University Medical Center in New York, NY set out to discover if such a boost in brain function was possible with the consumption of these flavanols. They specifically observed how thees compounds affected a part of the brain known as the dentate gyrus.
For the study, 37 healthy individuals aged 50-69 were randomized to either consume a high-flavanol diet containing 900 mg of flavanols each day or follow a low flavanol diet containing only 10 mg of flavanols each day. As mentioned, the flavanols weren’t simply consumed via cocoa beans or processed chocolate. The participants were actually provided a drink created by Marc Inc, one of the world’s largest chocolate producers and suppliers. This company also helped to fund the study.
It’s important to note who is behind each piece of research, as it could point to some form of conflict of interest. In this case, we have a mega-corp funding a study which may lead to the future development of a new product, but this doesn’t change the fact that these naturally occurring flavanols do in fact have some powerful, positive affects when concentrated and utilized; these same results won’t be achieved by eating processed chocolate found at a grocery store.
After undergoing brain imaging and participating in memory tests, it was found that participants who followed the high-flavanol diet demonstrated improved function in the dentate gyrus, compared with those who followed the low-flavanol diet. Furthermore, participants in the high-flavanol group performed much better on memory tests.
In fact, after three months of consuming the special cocoa concoction, someone with the typical memory of a 60-year-old improved their memory to that of a 30- or 40-year-old, Small reported.
Keith Fargo, director of scientific programs and outreach with the Alzheimer’s Association,raised some questions:
At the same time, Fargo said that the general notion that diet might affect brain health is “very plausible.”
These flavanols are found (to varying degrees) in many types of foods, including tea leaves, fruits and vegetables, as well as raw cocoa.