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Daily Intake of Cocoa Can Improve Memory in Elderly

Update Date: Aug 14, 2012 08:47 AM EDT

A new study claims that cocoa can improve working memories in elderly people. Apparently, the study has found that people who were given cocoa drinks scored high in reasoning tests and also improved blood sugar control compared to others who did were not given the drink. 

It's the flavonol content in Cocoa, which protects the brain cells from damaging. Flavonol is also found in tea, grapes, red wine and apples, reports Telegraph. 

For the Study, 90 people with mild thinking problems were given daily drinks containing large or moderate levels of cocoa flavonols for eight weeks. 

The participants' intake of other foods containing flavanols was restricted to maintain the dosage given to the people for the study and they were compared with people drinking low levels of cocoa. 

The amount of flavonols administered to the participants was either 990 milligrams, 520 mg or 45 mg of a dairy-based cocoa flavonol drink, the report said. 

Later, all the participants were asked to undergo cognitive testing on memory function, brain processing speeds and general thinking ability. The results revealed that those having daily drinks of cocoa scored better in working memory, switching tasks and verbal memory tests. 

It was found that those who had regular cocoa drinks also scored high in the ability to relate visual stimuli to motor responses, working memory, task-switching and verbal memory, when compared to those who took moderate amount of flavonol drinks. 

"This study provides encouraging evidence that consuming cocoa flavonols, as a part of a calorie-controlled and nutritionally-balanced diet, could improve cognitive function," Dr Giovambattista Desideri, study lead author and director of Geriatric Division, at University of L'Aquila in Italy was quoted as saying by Telegraph. 

"The positive effect on cognitive function may be mainly mediated by an improvement in insulin sensitivity. It is yet unclear whether these benefits in cognition are a direct consequence of cocoa flavonols or a secondary effect of general improvements in cardiovascular function." 

"Given the global rise in cognitive disorders, which have a true impact on an individual's quality of life, the role of cocoa flavonols in preventing or slowing the progression of mild cognitive impairment to dementia warrants further research."

"Larger studies are needed to validate the findings, figure out how long the positive effects will last and determine the levels of cocoa flavonols required for benefit."

It is recommended that people consult their physicians before making any major changes to their diet. The findings were published in the journal Hypertension.

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