Cocoa and chocolate are good for your cognition

Credit: CC0 Public Domain.

Scientists from the University of L’Aquila found that cocoa and chocolate are not just a treat—they are good for your cognition.

The research was published in Frontiers in Nutrition and was conducted by Valentina Socci et al.

A balanced diet is a chocolate in both hands – a phrase commonly used to justify one’s chocolate snacking behavior.

A phrase is now shown to actually harbor some truth, as the cocoa bean is a rich source of flavanols: a class of natural compounds that has neuroprotective effects.

In the study, the team examined what happens to your brain up to a few hours after you eat cocoa flavanols, and what happens when you sustain such a cocoa flavanol-enriched diet for a prolonged period of time.

They found showed enhancements in working memory performance and improved visual information processing after having had cocoa flavanols.

And for women, eating cocoa after a night of total sleep deprivation actually counteracted the cognitive impairment (i.e. less accuracy in performing tasks) that such a night brings about.

Promising results for people that suffer from chronic sleep deprivation or work shifts.

The effects depended on the length and mental load of the used cognitive tests to measure the effect of acute cocoa consumption.

In young and healthy adults, for example, a high demanding cognitive test was required to uncover the subtle immediate behavioral effects that cocoa flavanols have on this group.

The effects of relatively long-term ingestion of cocoa flavanols (ranging from 5 days up to 3 months) have generally been investigated in elderly individuals.

It turns out that for them cognitive performance was improved by a daily intake of cocoa flavanols. Factors such as attention, processing speed, working memory, and verbal fluency were greatly affected.

These effects were, however, most pronounced in older adults with a starting memory decline or other mild cognitive impairments.

This study suggests the potential of cocoa flavanols to protect cognition over time by improving cognitive performance.

If people look at the underlying mechanism, the cocoa flavanols have beneficial effects on cardiovascular health and can increase cerebral blood volume in the dentate gyrus of the hippocampus.

This structure is particularly affected by aging and therefore the potential source of age-related memory decline in humans.

If you care about brain health, please read studies about common food oil in the U.S. that could change genes in the brain, and common habits that could make your brain age fast.

For more information about brain health, please see recent studies about how does COVID affect the brain, and results showing how to eat your way to a healthy brain.

Copyright © 2022 Knowridge Science Report. All rights reserved.