Chocolate Linked To Better Brain Health

According to recent research, flavanols are nutrients that may help prevent memory and cognitive loss that naturally occurs with aging.

Researchers believe a deficiency in flavanols, abundant in vegetables, fruits, and even chocolate, may contribute to memory decline due to age.

The findings of this study reflect the culmination of a decade and a half of investigation into the possible benefits of flavanols for the dentate gyrus, a region of the hippocampus crucial to memory.

The National Institutes of Health and Mars Edge, a division of the candy manufacturer, supported this research.

Researchers speculate that the aging brain, like a baby’s growing brain, would have dietary needs unique to its stage of life. Now that individuals are living longer, researchers are exploring several nutritional suggestions that are good for the aging body and brain.

Foods rich in flavanols include berries, apples (especially peels), dark chocolate, grapes, cocoa, citrus fruits, and green tea. The United States Department of Agriculture lists onions, kale, hot peppers, broccoli, spinach, and rutabagas as good vegetable sources of flavanols.

The flavanol epicatechin was discovered to improve memory in mice by stimulating the creation of new neurons and blood vessels.

The dentate gyrus has been related to cognitive (or mental) aging in human research. A more extensive study indicated that flavanols enhanced memory, with the largest benefit shown in those with a weak dietary foundation, to begin with.

To learn more about this, scientists conducted a trial in which 3,500 healthy elderly people were randomly allocated to receive either a placebo or a flavanol supplement daily. The pills have 500 milligrams of flavonols and 80 milligrams of epicatechins, the daily maximum allowed without a meal.

Dietary questionnaires were addressed, and participants completed hippocampus-related short-term memory assessments on the Internet in years one, two, and three.

More than a third of the people who participated in the study also gave urine samples so scientists could analyze them for a biomarker of dietary flavanol levels.

Researchers found that no one was substantially deficient in flavanol but that those who were mildly low benefited from taking flavanol supplements. They discovered flavanols enhanced memory formation in the hippocampus but not other brain regions.

In addition to avoiding alcohol, eating nutrient-dense meals, sleeping sufficiently, exercising regularly, maintaining an adequate water intake, and getting plenty of rest, Lang made suggestions for lowering the risk of chronic illness and improving general health.