Chocolate can improve memory, experts say

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Neurologists at Columbia University Medical Center published their findings on Nature Neuroscience on Sunday stating that chocolate can actually reverse memory loss. According to the experts, a component of cocoa has the ability to improve memory and slow down memory loss. They conducted the experiment on 37 participants with ages ranging from 50 to 69. At the beginning of the experiment, each individual underwent a memory test and they were then given something to drink that contained flavonol antioxidants. The flavonols came from the cocoa beans and they are natural antioxidants.
Each individual was required to consume those drinks for three months. When the three months have ended each individual was again given another memory test. The results show that the individuals fared better in the second round of memory tests as compared to the first one.
The neurologists also discovered that those individuals who drank more of the flavonols had better results in their second memory tests as compared with the others.
Dr. Scott Small, who was the lead author of the experiment, gave further details regarding the results of the experiment. “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.”
Dr. Small said that larger doses of flavonols “cause an improvement in the area of the brain that’s affected by aging.”
The results of this experiment bode well for people suffering from age-related memory loss but Dr. Small was quick to announce that the cocoa’s flavonols are not yet proven to be a potential cure for Alzheimer’s disease or dementia.
The experiment suggests that flavonols can increase activity in a section of the brain that is linked to memory. The dentate gyrus is said to have increased activity when the person ingested substantial amounts of flavonols. Unfortunately, Alzheimer’s and dementia affect a different part of the brain which is the entorhinal cortex and flavonols were unable to cause any effect on that portion.
Not enough flavonols in chocolates
The project did discover that flavonols can improve memory but researchers stated that their test subjects were given 900 milligrams of the flavonols when they displayed improved memory. Unfortunately most chocolates sold on the market only have 40 milligrams of flavonols due to it being removed during processing.
There are supplements that contain cocoa flavonols and could be purchased anywhere but experts say it would be hard to consume 900 milligrams of this. Mars the chocolate bar company who was behind Dr. Small’s experiment is selling the antioxidants in 20 and 25 milligram doses. The Washington Post reported that the participants of the experiment were given a special drink that was designed specifically for the project.
The results of Dr. Small’s experiment are definitely encouraging but he admits that further studies are needed to determine if cocoa’s flavonols can truly improve memory loss.
You can find more of this news article in our November 2014 issue of ModelsMania

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