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Memory loss and dementia are causes for worry among seniors, but a scientific study shows there’s a sweet way to ward off these concerns. How? By drinking hot chocolate daily.
The study published in the Aug. 7 issue of Neurology indicated that older people who drank two cups of hot chocolate daily for a month showed a higher capability of thinking and better memory retention than those who didn’t. Brain scans which showed there was better blood flow in the brain among cocoa-drinkers seemed to corroborate this.
The study author Dr Farzaneh A. Sorond of Harvard Medical School believes the relationship between blood flow and brain activity, called neurovascular coupling, “may play a significant role in diseases such as Alzheimer’s.”
In the experiment 60 adults with an average age of 73 took 2 cups of hot chocolate for 30 consecutive days; all the 60 had been found to be dementia-free from the outset and were directed not to consume other chocolate products while the experiment was ongoing.
The scientists also performed preliminary tests before the experiment began to evaluate the thinking and memory skills of the participants; these were administered using ultrasound technology to measure neurovascular coupling.
The results of the MRI scans showed that nearly one-third of the subjects had impaired neurovascular coupling. The results also revealed the affected participants showed signs of brain damage – linked to restricted blood flow. Incidentally, participants were given a memory speed test before the experiment began; it took them 167 seconds to complete the test.
After the 30 days had elapsed, those who had demonstrated regular neurovascular coupling from the start showed no significant changes in their working memory. However, out of the 18 whose brain activity was impaired, only five remained with impaired neurovascular coupling – a 21% improvement. Likewise, there was a marked improvement in the memory test completion time, from 167 seconds to 116; an impressive 30% change.
The study successfully demonstrated that real cocoa plays a major role in repairing the memory of elderly people by stimulating blood flow to their brain and speeding up their memory capabilities.
The Reasons behind Cocoa’s Positive Effects on Brain Activity
Dark chocolate’s potency is caused by its high polyphenol content, and the presence of flavonols which increase blood flow to the brain, preventing Alzheimer’s and dementia. Antioxidants also go a long way in boosting our immune system.
What it all boils down to is that this sweet, dark and bitter product (when in its natural form) is full of benefits whose effects were only just beginning to see.