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Drinking Cocoa Linked to Boosting Memory

Update Date: Oct 27, 2014 09:30 AM EDT

Cocoa consumption has the potential to improve memory, a new study reported. Researchers created a special cocoa beverage that was able to boost the memory of older adults.

"They got this really remarkable increase in a place in the brain that we know is related to age-related memory change," commented Dr. Steven DeKosky, a neurologist and visiting professor at the University of Pittsburgh, according to the New York Times.

For this study, the researchers recruited 37 healthy adults between 50 and 69-years-old. The participants were put on a diet that consisted of raw cocoa flavanols. Half of them were put into the high-flavanol (900 milligrams) group while the rest of them were assigned to the low-flavanol (10 milligrams) group. Flavanols can also be found in other foods, such as tea leaves, fruits and vegetables.

The participants all underwent brain scans before and after the study. The researchers analyzed the dentate gyrus, which have been linked to age-related memory loss. The participants also took a 20-minute memory test.

After three months, the researchers found that participants from the high-flavanol group had better test scores than participants in the low-flavanol group. The high-flavanol group aslo experienced improvements in their memory that were greater than the improvements demonstrated in the other group.

"What is interesting here is that this is the first study to show a causal connection between a specific area of the brain and age-related memory loss," said study co-author Dr. Scott Small, director of the Alzheimer's Disease Research Center with the Taub Institute at the Columbia University Medical Center in New York City. "The byproduct of our main finding that links this part of the brain to memory decline is that our dietary intervention did appear to ameliorate the situation."

He added, according to Philly, "This is really not about chocolate. And it would be detrimental to one's health to try and run out and get flavanols from chocolate, which exist in chocolate, but in miniscule amounts."

The researchers stated that more research should be conducted, particularly in a larger sample group.

The study was published in the journal, Nature Neuroscience.

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