According to research, consuming 2 cups of hot chocolate each day could help the elderly maintain healthy brains and keep their thinking capabilities sharp. The research involved 60 individuals without dementia and an average age of 73. The individuals consumed 2 cups of hot cocoa each day for 1 month and didn’t consume any other chocolate throughout the study. They were given thinking and memory skill tests, as well as ultrasound tests for measuring blood flow volume to the brain throughout the tests.
As different parts of the brain require more energy for task completion, greater blood flow is also needed. This relationship, know as neurovascular coupling, could play a major role in diseases like Alzheimer’s.
Eighteen the 60 individuals had impaired blood flow at the beginning of the research. Those individuals had an 8.3% blood flow improvement to the brain’s working areas by the conclusion of the study, while for individuals who began with regular blood flow, there was no improvement.
Times on a test of working memory were also improved in individuals with reduced blood flow, with scores reducing from 167 seconds at the start of the study to 116 seconds at the conclusion. For individuals with regular blood flow there was no change in times.
Twenty four of the individuals also had MRI brain scans to look for small areas of brain damage. These areas of brain damage were also more likely to be found in individuals with impaired blood flow.
50% the individuals received hot cocoa which was rich in flavanol, an antioxidant, while the other 50% received hot cocoa with little flavanol. No differences were found in the results between the 2 groups.