Consuming flavanol-rich cocoa may enhance brain function

Let’s face it – we are what our brain is. Keeping our brain young and sharp is quintessential for a healthy and happy life.  Unfortunately, our brain ages.  Each year more than six percent of people aged 70 years or older develop mild cognitive impairment, a condition involving memory loss that can progress to dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.  But, there is hope: according to a research published in the American Heart Association’s journal Hypertension, eating cocoa flavanols daily may improve mild cognitive impairment.

Flavanols, found in cocoa beans, have been associated with a decreased risk of dementia. They may act on the brain structure and function directly by protecting neurons from injury, improving metabolism and their interaction with the molecular structure responsible for memory researchers said. Indirectly, flavanols may help by improving brain blood flow.

In this study, 90 elderly participants with mild cognitive impairment were randomized to drink daily either 990 milligrams (high), 520 mg (intermediate) or 45 mg (low) of a dairy-based cocoa flavanol drink for eight weeks. The diet was restricted to eliminate other sources of flavanols from foods and beverages other than the dairy-based cocoa drink. Cognitive function was examined by neuro-psychological tests of executive function, working memory, short-term memory, long-term episodic memory, processing speed and global cognition.

Researchers found:

  • Scores significantly improved in the ability to relate visual stimuli to motor responses, working memory, task-switching and verbal memory for those drinking the high and intermediate flavanol drinks.
  • Participants drinking daily higher levels of flavanol drinks had significantly higher overall cognitive scores than those participants drinking lower-levels.
  • Insulin resistance, blood pressure and oxidative stress also decreased in those drinking high and intermediate levels of flavanols daily. Changes in insulin resistance explained about 40 percent of the composite scores for improvements in cognitive functioning.

This study provides encouraging evidence that consuming cocoa flavanols could improve cognitive function.  To get your daily fix of cocoa flavanols with a dose of energizing caffeine, check out SGC’s mocca shots dark chocolate high energy gummy.

Thanks for reading.

Journal References:

  1. Davide Grassi, Giovambattista Desideri, Stefano Necozione, Fabrizio Ruggieri, Jeffrey B. Blumberg, Michele Stornello, and Claudio Ferri. Protective Effects of Flavanol-Rich Dark Chocolate on Endothelial Function and Wave Reflection During Acute Hyperglycemia. Hypertension, 2012; DOI: 10.1161/HYPERTENSIONAHA.112.193995
  2. American Heart Association. “Consuming flavanol-rich cocoa may enhance brain function.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 13 August 2012. <>.