20 August 2012
Hooray, chocolate is good for you!
According to researchers, a daily chocolate fix could be the secret to halting Alzheimer’s.
It has been found that a certain ingredient found in the delicious treat can dramatically improve cognitive impairment. Researchers have said that pensioners should have a daily dose of cocoa to keep the disease at bay. The secret lies in flavanols, an antioxidant also found in fruit, vegetables, tea and red wine.
The team of researched from University of L’Aquila in Italy found that eating these cocoa flavanal on a daily basis could improve mild cognitive impairment This impairment takes the form of memory loss which usually precedes dementia, about 60% of those with a mild cognitive impairment go on to develop Alzheimer’s.
The study involved giving 90 elderly people with mild cognitive impairment one of three measurements of cocoa flavanal drink, either 990mg, 520mg or 45mg, daily for eight weeks. They undertook memory tests and it was found that those who had the higher intake had significantly improved scores than those on the lower intake.
The head of the research team, Dr Giovambattista Desideri, said, “This study provides encouraging evidence that consuming cocoa flavanols as part of a calorie-controlled and nutritionally balanced diet could improve cognitive function. Given the global rise in cognitive disorders, which have a true impact on an individual’s quality of life, the role of cocoa flavanols in preventing or slowing the progression of mild cognitive impairment to dementia warrants further research.”
However, Dr Desideri went on to say that, “It is yet unclear whether these benefits in cognition are a direct consequence of cocoa flavanols or a secondary effect of general improvements in cardiovascular function. Larger studies are needed to validate the findings, figure out how long the positive effects will last and determine the levels of cocoa flavanols required for benefit.”
Dr Laura Phipps, of Alzheimer’s Research UK, said: “It would be useful to see more long-term studies to investigate the lasting effects. Ultimately we would need to see the results of large-scale trials to know whether cocoa flavanols could help prevent or delay dementia.”