Navigation Links
Could Chocolate's Antioxidants Boost Brain Function?

By Steven Reinberg
HealthDay Reporter

MONDAY, Aug. 13 (HealthDay News) -- A cocoa drink rich in flavanols -- the same antioxidants found in chocolate -- may help people with mild memory problems improve their brain function, according to Italian researchers.

Flavanols are found in tea, grapes, red wine, apples and especially in cocoa plants and are associated with a decreased risk of dementia, the researchers said.

"The prevention of dementia has to be started early in the life through a healthy lifestyle including adequate cardiovascular risk-factor control, regular physical activity, weight control and a calorie-controlled and nutritionally balanced diet," said lead researcher Dr. Giovambattista Desideri, director of the geriatric division in the department of life, health and environmental sciences at the University of L'Aquila.

"In this context, regular cocoa flavanol consumption seems to represent an effective strategy in preserving brain and cardiovascular health and function," he said.

Flavanols' ability to help maintain brain function may arise from their ability to protect brain cells, improve brain metabolism and blood flow, which helps preserve memory, the researchers said.

The report was published online Aug. 13 in Hypertension.

For the study, funded by the candy maker, Mars Inc., the researchers assigned 90 elderly patients with mild memory impairment to consume a drink containing either 990 milligrams (mg), 520 mg or 45 mg of cocoa flavanols each day for eight weeks.

The researchers assessed participants' brain function with a variety of tests.

People consuming the high and intermediate amounts of flavanol showed significant improvement on some of the tests, the study found. They scored better on measures including hand-eye coordination, working and verbal memory, and verbal fluency than those in the low-flavanol group.

About 40 percent of the improved mental scores were the result of lowered insulin resistance seen in the higher-flavanol groups, the study said. These participants also had reduced blood sugar and blood pressure, and lower levels of a marker for oxidative damage to the cells.

These data are in agreement with a consistent body of data from literature that consumption of flavonoid-rich foods -- including dark chocolate -- is associated with a reduction of insulin resistance, according to study background information. "In other words, cocoa flavanols are able to improve control of blood sugar," Desideri said.

"Given the global rise in cognitive [brain] disorders due to progressive 'graying' of population in Western countries, our findings provide encouraging evidence that consuming cocoa flavanols could represent a useful intervention for preserving mental health," he said.

It is important to note this study was not done with chocolate, but with lower-calorie, nutritionally balanced drinks rich in cocoa flavanols, Desideri said.

"Based on the current explosion of obesity, which is particularly evident in children, we should be careful when recommending chocolate ingestion to our patients," he said. "In real life, the progressive increment of body weight due to an unbalanced diet is likely to counterbalance the positive effects of cocoa on vascular function."

Dr. Sam Gandy, associate director of the Mount Sinai Alzheimer's Disease Research Center at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York City, said that "the study is interesting but requires replication before it can be taken seriously."

"The lifestyle intervention with the strongest science behind it is physical exercise," he said. "I would recommend physical exercise before I would recommend chocolate."

While the study found an association between cocoa flavanols and mental function scores, it did not prove a cause-and-effect relationship.

More information

For more about dementia, visit the U.S. National Library of Medicine.

SOURCES: Giovambattista Desideri, M.D., director, geriatric division, department of life, health and environmental sciences, University of L'Aquila, Italy; Sam Gandy, M.D., Ph.D., Mount Sinai chair in Alzheimer's Disease Research, and professor of neurology and psychiatry, and director, Mount Sinai Center for Cognitive Health, and associate director, Mount Sinai Alzheimer's Disease Research Center, Mount Sinai School of Medicine, New York City; Aug. 13, 2012, Hypertension, online

Copyright©2012 ScoutNews,LLC.
All rights reserved

Related medicine news :

1. Red wine, fruit compound could help block fat cell formation
2. Pulse pressure elevation could presage cerebrovascular disease in Alzheimers patients
3. Report says new evidence could tip the balance in aspirin cancer prevention care
4. Climate Change Could Be Tough on Seniors Health: Study
5. Could Menthol Cigarettes Pose Even Higher Stroke Risk?
6. Online Tool Could Diagnose Autism Quickly, Developers Say
7. Codeine After Surgery Could Endanger Certain Kids: Study
8. BMC study shows diverting passengers to elevators could help reduce falls at Logan Airport
9. Discovery could help to develop drugs for organ transplant and cancer patients
10. Feelings of immaturity accompany alcohol misuse into adulthood; discovery could improve treatments
11. Saliva test could dramatically increase detection of oral cancer
Post Your Comments:
(Date:6/27/2016)... ... June 27, 2016 , ... TherapySites, ... its affiliation with Tennessee Counseling Association. This new relationship allows TherapySites ... Tennessee Counseling Association, adding exclusive benefits and promotional offers. , "TCA is extremely ...
(Date:6/26/2016)... , ... June 27, 2016 , ... Quality metrics are ... in many ways they remain in the eye of the beholder, according to experts ... publication of The American Journal of Managed Care. For the full issue, click ...
(Date:6/26/2016)... ... , ... Brent Kasmer, a legally blind and certified personal trainer is helping to develop a ... fitness app plans to fix the two major problems leading the fitness industry today:, ... type program , They don’t eliminate all the reasons people quit their exercise ...
(Date:6/25/2016)... ... ... closing of Bruton Memorial Library on June 21 due to a possible lice infestation, as ... of head lice: the parasite’s ability to live away from a human host, and to ... one in the event that lice have simply gotten out of control. , As lice ...
(Date:6/25/2016)... Oklahoma (PRWEB) , ... June 25, 2016 , ... ... both athletes and non-athletes recover from injury. Recently, he has implemented orthobiologic procedures ... Oklahoma City area —Johnson is one of the first doctors to perform the ...
Breaking Medicine News(10 mins):
(Date:6/23/2016)... , June 23, 2016 , ... on Thursday, July 7, 2016 , , , , LOCATION: ... , , , , EXPERT PANELISTS:  , , , ... Senior Industry Analyst, Christi Bird; Senior Industry Analyst, Divyaa Ravishankar and ... The global pharmaceutical industry is witnessing an exceptional era. ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... and BOGOTA, Colombia , June 23, 2016  Astellas today announced the establishment of Astellas Farma ... as the company,s second affiliate in Latin America . ... ... Astellas Farma Colombia ... ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... 23, 2016  Guerbet announced today that it has ... Horizon Award . One of 12 suppliers ... for its support of Premier members through exceptional local ... and commitment to lower costs. ... of our outstanding customer service from Premier," says ...
Breaking Medicine Technology: