As we get older, we are all guilty of getting a little forgetful, however, according to new research published: chocolate could to be the answer to all of our problems!
Writing yourself post-it notes and placing them on your fridge and setting yourself reminders on your mobile phone could be a thing of the past, according to this study.
Researchers believe that the antioxidant found in chocolate can improve the memory skills we lose as we age.
So, it’s about time we all got down to our local shops and stocked up, we say!
Gaining a memory 30 years younger
A study has been conducted by Dr Scott A Small and published in the Journal of Nature Neuroscience which looked at a group of healthy adults aged between 50 and 69. These adults were asked to drink a mixture containing a high volume of antioxidants named; cocoa flavanols for a total of three months.
Interestingly, these adults performed better on a memory test compared to those adults who were asked to drink a low-flavanol mixture.
On average, those who drank the flavanol mixture performed at the same rate as those 30 years younger than themselves. According to Dr Scott A Small – a neurologist from Columbia University medical centre – this group performed an impressive 25% better than their counterparts.
A fellow neurologist, Craig Stark, from the University of California – who was not involved in the study – commented that this is “an exciting result” and a great opportunity for further research to be conducted in the future.
Stark also added; “its chocolate. Who’s going to complain about chocolate?”
Additional health benefits
The study also found that it’s not just memory benefits that chocolate can help with, but improved blood circulation and heart health.
These additional health benefits were also found to impact mice and snails, along with humans.
The study that involved 37 participants and was partly funded by chocolate giant, Mars Inc, is set to be adopted by more experienced researchers in the future, in order to find out exactly what health benefits we could gain from eating our favorite chocolate.
While the study looked at memory in general, there was also a pattern recognition test aimed at involving the skill we use when remembering where we parked our car. Researchers found that there was increased activity in this area of the brain – named the dentate gyrus – for those who drank the flavanol mixture.
According to a neurologist from the University of Pittsburgh, Dr Steven DeKosky, this is the part of the brain that is related most to age-related memory change/loss.
However, it was found that this antioxidant did not impact the entorhinal cortex – the part of the brain that is affected by Alzheimer’s disease – meaning that this research reinforces the previous idea that memory loss that is age related is different to that caused by Alzheimer’s.
But, don’t be fooled
While this research means that chocolate has other functions, other than adding a few inches to our waistline, it doesn’t mean that we should go out and stock up on Snickers and Milky Way bars.
In order to consume the amount of flavanol those who were part of the study did, we would have to devour 138 milligrams of epicatechin every day. This is equivalent to 300 grams of dark chocolate eaten on a daily basis – around seven average-sized bars – or 100 grams of cooking chocolate or unsweetened cocoa powder. Unfortunately for those dairy lovers, most milk chocolate has all of the epicatechin removed from it during processing.
The truth is, most chocolate bars that we consume on a daily basis don’t actually have much chocolate in them, just sugar and a heck of a lot of calories.
However, there is an answer; Mars currently stocks a supplement of this flavanol to promote good blood circulation along with heart and brain benefits – named CocoaVia – which contains between 20 and 25 milligrams of epicatechin per packet or capsule. This antioxidant can also be found in foods we consume daily, including tea and apples.
Chocolate may not be the only answer
Due to this research being on a very small scale, scientists in the USA are planning to cover it on a much larger basis to ensure its findings are mirrored among other Americans.
While this study is informative and factual in its own right, Dr Small has added that increasing exercise can also prove to be beneficial when it comes to prohibiting age-related memory loss.
So, with the chance that our guilty pleasure may actually be good for us, we think it’s time to get our hands on some delicious dark chocolate, you know, just to make sure our memory remains in top gear!