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article imageStudy: Cocoa antioxidants helps reverse age related memory loss

By Greta McClain     Oct 27, 2014 in Health
New York - If you find you have become more forgetful lately, you may want to consider munching on some dark chocolate according to a study released on Sunday.
In a study conducted by researchers at Columbia University in New York, researchers found that the antioxidant in chocolate known as cocoa flavanols aided in the reversal of age related memory loss.
In a controlled randomized trial, researchers followed healthy participants age 50–69-years-old for three months. Each participant was given either a diet high in cocoa flavanols or a diet containing a low amount of cocoa flavanols. At the end of the three month period, researchers found that the dentate gyrus, a portion of the hippocampus crucial for memory formation, was enhanced in those who had a high-flavanol diet.
The results were dramatic, with researchers seeing a reversal of age related memory loss. Dr Scott A Small, director of the Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center at Columbia University and author of the study, told the New York Times:
"If a participant had the memory of a typical 60-year-old at the beginning of the study, after three months that person on average had the memory of a typical 30- or 40-year-old,"
Scientists not involved with the study are also impressed with the findings. Dr Ashok Jansari, acognitive neuropsychologist at Goldsmiths College, told the New Zealand Herald:
"Given a globally ageing population, by isolating a particular area of the brain that is weakening in functioning as we grow older, and demonstrating that a non-pharmacological intervention can improve learning of new information, the authors have made a significant contribution to helping us improve our cognitive health."
The study also provided the first direct evidence that age related memory loss is due to changes in the dentate gyrus. It also showed that Alzheimer’s Disease and age related memory loss function differently. Although the cocoa helped to enhance the dentate gyrus, it had no effect on the entorhinal cortext, the portion of the hippocampus affected by Alzheimer’s.
The study's findings are not only exciting for researchers and those wishing to improve their memory, but for chocolate lovers as well. However, your average Hershey's chocolate bar is going to do little in terms of reversing age related memory loss. Dark chocolate is the chocolate that contains cocoa antioxidants and should be eaten without milk. According to WebMD, milk can interfere with the body's ability to absorb the cocoa antioxidants.
More about Cocoa antioxidants, Cocoa, Antioxidants, Memory, Alzheimers Disease
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