The good stuff in chocolate brings not only good cheer and improved blood flow: A new study suggests it may have the power to turn back the clock on age-related memory loss. In research that will need to be replicated by larger trials, a concentrated daily dose of epicatechin, a compound derived from the cocoa bean, made a typical 60-year-old’s memory perform more like that of a 30- or 40-year-old.
A small trial set out to explore the effect of dietary “flavanols” on the dentate gyrus, a structure in that brain’s hippocampal region that plays a critical role in certain kinds of memory. The dentate gyrus becomes notably less active and less effective with normal aging.
A test drink that concentrated about 900 milligrams of flavanols was produced by the Mars company, maker of a wide range of chocolate candies. Nineteen subjects between the ages of 50 and 69 drank the test drink daily for three months, while 18 drank a beverage containing only 10 milligrams of the cocoa- Flavonols.
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