The secret to a long-lasting memory might be much easier and more delicious than previously suspected. Recent scientific studies reveal that when elderly people regularly ingested a diet rich in cocoa bean flavanols, they performed better in cognitive tasks reports The Telegraph.
The naturally occurring cocoa bean flavanols, which is a dietary compound found within the bean itself, have been shown to reduce dementia-like memory loss in the elderly.
In this ground-breaking study performed by researchers at Columbia University Medical Center, 37 participants between 50 and 69 years old were given either high or low doses of cocoa flavanols regularly for a total of three months. To test the difference, the participants were put through a delayed-recognition memory task. The results were clear. Those who had consumed the higher dosages of cocoa bean flavanols performed much faster than those on the low dose.
The scientists behind the study believe the reason for this discovery is due to an increase of blood volume, for those who ingested a high dose, to an area of the brain called the dentate gyrus. Previous studies have linked a decline in the function of this area of the brain to memory loss over time for elderly people.
“If a participant had the memory of a typical 60-year-old at the beginning of the study, after three months that person on average had the memory of a typical 30 or 40-year-old,” Scott A. Small, one of the study’s authors stated to The Telegraph.
Although the results of this study are very promising, the experiment will need to be replicated with a wider audience to assure the correlation is correct.
“This well-designed but small study suggests the antioxidants found in cocoa can improve cognitive performance by improving blood flow to a certain region of the brain,” Dr. Clare Walton, research manager at Alzheimer’s Society told The Telegraph.
“With the winter nights setting in, many of us will be settling down with a nice hot cup of cocoa at the end of our day,” Dr. Walton continues. “However, the jury is still out as to whether partaking in things high in antioxidants can improve your memory or reduce your risk of dementia.”
Although the scientific community might not be completely convinced, there is no harm in enjoying a delicious dark hot cocoa for the sake of memory.