Updated 11:01 PM EST, Mon, Dec 09, 2019

Memory Loss Prevention: Chocolates Improve Brain Connection?

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Chocolate lovers now have another reason to not say no. NY Times reported that a recent study shows antioxidants found in chocolate can reverse age-related memory loss.

According to the NY Times report, the study -- published online in Nature Neuroscience and financed by chocolate company Mars Inc. -- involved 37 healthy participants aged 50 to 69. They were made to drink a mixture high in antioxidants, cocoa flavanols, for three months.

The study found that flavanols present in cocoa beans -- the main ingredient in chocolate -- had improved memory skills in the volunteers. In the report, theories suggest that flavanols improve brain blood flow and cause dendrites, or neurons that receive messages, to grow.

"On a random basis, they were given either a high-flavanol diet consuming 900 mg a day or a low flavanol diet of 10 mg per day. Brain scans, which measure blood volume in the dentate gyrus, and memory tests were used to evaluate the effect of the diet," reported MSN.

The dentate gyrus is a region of the hippocampus, the part of the brain responsible for memory formation, adds the MSN report. Besides providing better memory skills, the study also found that consuming flavanols enhances connectivity and metabolic activity in the dentate gyrus.

However, NY Times also stated that another area of the hippocampal region, the entorhinal complex, has no increased activity which then "reinforces the idea that age-related memory decline is different and suggests that flavanols might not help Alzheimer's, even though they might delay normal memory loss."

Dr. Scott A. Small, a neurologist at Columbia University Medical Center and the senior author of the study, said that high-flavanol drinkers tend to perform two or three decades younger while participating in the study, according to the NY Times report. So for example, a typical 60-year old would have had memory performance as those aged 30 or 40.

"It more firmly establishes that this is the anatomical source of age-related memory loss," Small said as cited by MSN. He also added that about 40mg of flavanols is present in every chocolate bar.

But before you get your hands on as many chocolates as you could handle, it's important to know that binge eating chocolate to improve your memory might have negative effects on your health. You would have to consume a huge quantity of chocolate, along with fats and calories present in it.

MSN also adds that flavanols found in cocoa exists in very small amounts in the average chocolate bar compared to what was used in the study.

"To consume the high-flavanol group's daily dose of epicatechin, 138 milligrams, would take eating at least 300 grams of dark chocolate a day - about seven average-sized bars," according to NY Times.

MSN further reports that most processing methods today remove flavanols found in cocoa. However, Mars, Inc. produced a cocoa flavanol test drink solely for the research.

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