Can Chocolate Benefit Your Brain?
March 06, 2007
A special cocoa, designed to retain naturally occurring flavanols, could help maintain healthy brain function. This could eventually lead to new weapons against cognitive decline and dementia.
Several studies have indicated that flavanols could improve blood vessel function.
For example, research has shown that the indigenous population living on islands near Panama, who consume a type of cocoa rich in flavanols on a daily basis, also experience unusually low rates of hypertension and cardiovascular disease.
The relative risk of death from heart disease on the Panama mainland is 1,280 percent higher than on the islands.
These benefits might also extend to the brain, and could have effects on learning and memory. British researchers studied the results on the brains of young women by studying their brains via magnetic resonance imaging while completing a complex task.
Consumption of the special cocoa resulted in regional changes in brain blood flow for as long as three hours, meaning that cocoa flavanols may have potential as a treatment of vascular damage within the brain.