Flavanols in cocoa improve memory in older adults

Researchers from Columbia University and New York University have shown that a diet supplemented with flavanols from cocoa, which are natural compounds found in cocoa beans, can improve memory, cognition, and task performance in older adults. The study was published in the journal Scientific Reports.

Experts recruited 211 healthy volunteers between the ages of 50 and 75 for the new trial, which lasted a total of 12 weeks. During it, the respondents were divided into four groups and received varying amounts of supplements containing cocoa flavanols. At the beginning and end of the study, participants underwent MRI scans of blood flow in the brain as well as a series of cognitive tests.

The results of the study showed the possible effects of flavanols on cognitive function over a short period of time. Experts found that by the end of the study, those who followed a diet high in flavanols performed better on some cognitive tasks.

According to the scientists, the flavanols in cocoa helped older people recall information recorded in short-term memory but were much less helpful in quickly identifying visual similarities between objects and patterns. Researchers speculated that the object recognition tests may have been too difficult for the elderly participants, so they did not produce meaningful results.

Feb. 17, 2021, 12:28 p.m.

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