A study has shown that drinking two cups of hot chocolate a day may help ageing brains remain sharp and healthy.

Researchers from the Harvard Medical School in Boston recruited 60 people with an average age of 73 who did not have dementia. A common form of dementia is caused by problems in the supply of blood to the brain.

The study, published in the online issue of Neurology journal and made available to the Ghana News Agency in Accra, said after putting the people recruited on a diet of two cups of hot chocolate a day for 30 days, the researchers measured the amount of blood flow to their  brains as they undertook memory and cognitive tests.

While there was no measurable difference in blood flow or test results among those with regular blood flow, researchers noted an eight per cent improvement in blood flow among the 18 participants who started the experiment with impaired blood flow.

In addition to improved blood flow to the working areas of the brain, the participants also improved their times on a memory test, dropping from 167 seconds to 116 seconds by the end of the experiment, researchers said.

Study results suggest that different compounds in chocolate could play a role, given that though half the group received a hot chocolate enriched with the antioxidant flavanol, whilst the other received flavanol- poor hot cocoa, scientists found no clear difference between the two.

The objective of the study was to investigate the relationship between neurovascular coupling and cognitive function in elderly individuals with vascular risk factors and to determine whether neurovascular coupling could be modified by cocoa consumption.

There is a hypothesis that the antioxidant flavanol, which is found in cocoa, helps cognitive.

The study concluded that there is a strong correlation between neurovascular coupling and cognitive function, and both can be improved by regular cocoa consumption in individuals with baseline impairments.

Better neurovascular coupling is also associated with greater white matter structural integrity.

Source: GNA


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