CAMBRIDGE, Mass. (CBS Connecticut) – Medical researchers have learned that hot chocolate could play a role in preventing memory decline.
According to Medical News Today, a team at Harvard Medical School found that two cups of the comforting beverage could promote blood flow to important areas of the brain in seniors, while also fostering overall brain health in drinkers of all ages.
“As different areas of the brain need more energy to complete their tasks, they also need greater blood flow,” lead author Farzaneh A. Sorond was quoted as saying in regards to the importance of proper circulation in mental health. “This relationship, called neurovascular coupling, may play an important role in diseases such as Alzheimer’s.”
A pool of 60 participants around the age of 73 and free of dementia were called upon for the study, and each were asked to drink two cups of hot chocolate per day for one month. In one half of the pool, cocoa high in antioxidant flavanol was administered. In the other half, samples with low levels of flavanol were consumed.
At the end of the study, researchers found that those who consumed a greater quantity of flavanol — which, according to Medical News Today, is a part of chocolate known to promote heart health and circulation — performed better on thinking and memory tests.
Researchers additionally noted improvements in blood flow response to brain activity, known also as neurovascular coupling, in several people who partook in the study. In fact, 18 out of 60 of the participants who had impaired coupling showed an overall improvement of 8.3 percent.
“There is a strong correlation between neurovascular coupling and cognitive function, and both can be improved by regular cocoa consumption in individuals with baseline impairments,” Sorond, who is a member of the American Academy of Neurology, and his team wrote in the paper. “Better neurovascular coupling is also associated with greater white matter structural integrity.”
The study was published Wednesday in the journal Neurology.