Two cups of cocoa a day improve the flow of blood to the brain in those who had problems to start with, stated a study of 60 elderly people with no dementia.
All those participants whose blood flow improved were also doing better on memory tests by the end of the study, reported the journal Neurology.
Not for the first time cocoa has been linked with vascular health, researchers believe it is because cocoa is rich in flavanols, which have an important role in boosting health.
The recent study states that the researchers made 60 people with an average age of 73 drink two cups of cocoa a day, here one group was given high-flavanol cocoa and another was provided with a low-flavanol cocoa. Apart from this they were asked not to consume any other chocolate.
The ultrasound tests carried out at the beginning of the study showed 17 of them were having impaired flow of blood to the brain.
Not much difference was observed between those who consumed flavanol-rich cocoa and those who had flavanol-poor cocoa.
24 participants underwent MRI scan and the result stated that people with an impaired flow of blood were more prone to have tiny areas of brain damage.
“We’re learning more about blood flow in the brain and its effect on thinking skills,” stated study author Dr Farzaneh Sorond a neurologist at Harvard Medical School.
“As different areas of the brain need more energy to complete their tasks, they also need greater blood flow. This relationship, called neurovascular coupling, may play an important role in diseases such as Alzheimer’s.”
Dr Simon Ridley, head of research at Alzheimer’s Research UK, told that this was a small study but it added to a wealth of evidence.
“A cocoa-based treatment would likely be very popular, but it’s too soon to draw any conclusions about its effects”.
“One drawback of this study is the lack of a control group for comparison, and we can’t tell whether the results would have been different if the participants drank no cocoa at all.”
He also added: “Poor vascular health is a known risk factor for dementia, and understanding more about the links between vascular problems and declining brain health could help the search for new treatments and preventions.”