In addition to its delicious tastes, regular consumption of chocolate can also help improve memory in elderly people, a new study suggests.
Chocolate is high in flavanols and research shows that the antioxidant, which are also found in apples, tea, grapes, and red wine, may help protect brain cells from damage and improve blood flow to the brain, which helps preserve memory.
For the study, the researchers assigned 90 elderly patients with mild memory impairment to consume a drink containing either 990 mg, 520 mg or 45 mg of cocoa flavanols each day for eight weeks.
Each of them then underwent cognitive testing on memory function, brain processing speeds and general thinking ability.
The results showed that those drinking high and intermediate amounts of cocoa flavanol scored better on tests involving working memory, switching tasks and verbal memory.
“For the first time, regular cocoa flavanol consumption has been shown to positively affect cognitive function in elderly people with early memory decline”, said lead researcher Dr. Giovambattista Desideri, Director of the Geriatric Division of the University of L’Aquila, Italy.
“Importantly, the improvements in cognitive function were seen over a relatively short period of time, and, while further research is needed to confirm and expand on these findings, this provides encouraging evidence that regular consumption of cocoa flavanols may be effective in improving cognitive function in elderly with Mild Cognitive Impairment.”
However not all chocolate is equal. To reap the benefits, you should choose a good quality dark chocolate that has more than 60 percent of cocoa.