As we get older, parts of us start to degenerate. It may make some people uncomfortable to think about it but it happens nonetheless.
According to a paper published in the Journal Nature Neuroscience there is something we can do to help against this decline and for many it may already make up part of their nightly ritual, drink a nice cup of (supplemented) cocoa before bed.
It seems that part of the brain that is known to degenerate with age is the dentate gyrus (DG), a region in the hippocampal formation associated with memory. The researchers hypothesized that a high flavanol dietary intervention could enhance DG function in older people. Flavanols are found in foods such as cocoa, apple, blueberries, parsley and in black tea.
The researchers set up a study in which a group of 50-69 year olds were given a high flavanol cocoa drink each day for 3 months and compared them to a group given a low flavanol diet. The group that received the high flavanol diet performed significantly better in memory tests than the control group.
The research was funded by Mars who are developing high flavanol products but the results do look good. I’ll be watching to see if other researchers come to the same conclusions.
Unfortunately the level of flavanol in even dark chocolate is nowhere near the level used in this study so only an enriched product or supplement is going to give you these high amounts.
The research is published on the Nature Neuroscience website.