A recent study shows that Chocolate may be better than exercise for your brain health. Chocolate is one of our favorite foods; not only because it is tasty, but also because it's really good for your health.
The most recent evidence of this comes from a recent study published in the journal Neurology. Researchers found that chocolate may help older people keep their brains healthy and their thinking sharp. Study participants who drank two cups of cocoa daily for 30 days showed an 8.3 percent increase in blood flow to the brain, and they improved their scores on memory and thinking tests. Score!
This new finding is promising, but it's not the only health benefit that seems to come as a result of eating chocolate. Scientists from Columbia University and New York University gave volunteers between the ages of 50 and 69 a specially formulated drink containing flavanols extracted from cocoa powder. Half the participants were given a small dose of flavanols, and half a large dose, for a total of three months.
Those who received a high dose were reported to have higher memory function scores than those who had a low dose.
Past studies have demonstrated the benefits of cocoa flavanols for people suffering from mild cognitive impairment, the current study focused on healthy people experiencing the usual mental wear and tear that comes with older age. The researchers, some employed by chocolate-maker Mars Inc., began their study by enlisting the help of men and women between the ages of 61 and 85. Participants were given a drink containing either a high, medium, or low amounts of cocoa flavanols every day for eight weeks. However, these were not simple cups of hot cocoa, but drinks made with a specially prepared flavanol-rich powder.
So what did the researchers discover? The volunteers who drank either the high- or medium-flavanol drinks showed significant improvements in their overall cognitive function after only eight weeks. Plus, the group showed reduced blood pressure and improved insulin resistance. The researchers believe these positive results may be due, in part, to improved vascular function.
While researchers don't fully understand how cocoa flavanols benefit the brain, they think it could have something to do with the way the substance improves insulin resistance, which has been linked to brain aging. Flavanols have also been found to support normal blood vessel functioning. In theory, this should promote circulation throughout the body and to the brain, and in turn, boost cognitive functioning, says study co-author Catherine Kwik-Uribe, Ph.D., human health and nutrition director at Mars.
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