If you treat every day as National Chocolate Day, could you be improving your brain health?
Claims abound on the potential health benefits of chocolate. A few small clinical trials suggest that flavanol-rich cocoa might slightly improve cognitive ability. Sadly, the benefits found in the studies are small and limited in scope. It’s possible, however, that a stronger benefit could be seen if flavanol-rich cocoa is consumed for a longer period of time. As a chocolate lover, I certainly hope so, but investment in research is needed to test this hypothesis.
A challenge with any research on chocolate and brain health is that flavanols in chocolate are often suggested to be the protective component, but the content of flavanol in chocolate and cocoa varies widely. Even dark chocolate is not a reliable source. Many types of dark chocolate have undergone alkalization, a processing step that reduces bitterness and acidity but also reduces flavanol levels.
To learn more about the state-of-the-science on whether chocolate or cocoa could protect your brain and promote health in old-age, read our ratings and full report.
Dr. Penny Dacks was previously the Director of Aging and Alzheimer’s Disease Prevention at the Alzheimer's Drug Discovery Foundation. She was trained in neuroscience at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine, the University of Arizona, and Queen's University (Canada) with individual fellowships from the National Institute of Health, the Evelyn F. McKnight Brain Research Foundation, the ARCS Foundation and the Hilda and Preston Davis Foundation. She has authored over 18 peer-reviewed scientific articles and is a member of the Society for Neuroscience, the Gerontological Society of America, the Endocrine Society and the Association for Women in Science.
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