Chocolate on my Mind
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ChocolateNot that I need an excuse to eat chocolate, but I’ve got one anyway. A new study shows flavonols in cocoa can reverse age-related memory decline. I need that! Don’t you ever! You’re in the same boat, Dave! Yeah, yeah... so bring on the flavonols, which are a potent anti-oxidant found in a variety of plants.

Flavonols help our cells deal with free radicals which come from normal cellular processes but also environmental contaminants such as cigarette smoke. Unless your body gets rid of free radicals, they can damage proteins, lipids and even your genetic information.

In the new study, a cocoa drink designed to retain its flavanols was compared with another that contained very little. Thirty-seven adults aged fifty to 69 were randomly selected. One group consumed nine hundred milligrams a day of flavonols compared to the control group which drank just ten milligrams for three months. Both groups took brain imaging and memory tests before and after the study, as well as measurements of blood flow to the dentate gyrus responsible for pattern-recognition. Those who consumed the high levels of cocoa flavanols had better function in the dentate gyrus and improved memory.

So, someone with the memory of a sixty year old before the study scored the memory of a thirty to forty year old after the study. That’s a huge reversal.

If you’re rushing to the pantry for a chocolate bar, make that 23, because that’s how many you’d have to eat in a day to equal the amount of flavonols the study subjects took. Since flavonols are found in tea, red wine, and berries as well, a potent wonder drink may not be far in our future.