A small patient based study found that flavanols concentrated from cocoa beans helped improve age related memory loss. The concentrated flavanol extract was prepared by Mars Inc., the company sponsoring the research. The study followed 37 healthy volunteers between the ages of 50 to 69 for three months. Participants in the experimental group consumed 900 mg of the flavanol extract and participants in the control group consumed 10 mg of the concentrated flavanol cocoa drink. Participants were given brain scans at the beginning and end of the study. The brain scans were being monitored for any changes to the dentate gyrus region of the brain which is suspected to be involved in age related memory loss. A twenty minute memory test using pattern recognition questions was also used to assess any memory changes in the study participants. At the end of the study participants on the high-flavanol diet scored significantly higher on the memory test than participants on the low-flavanol diet.
This is a preliminary research study that used a concentrated extract of flavanols. The dose used in the study would not be available from regular chocolate products. There are many plant sources for flavanols in addition to cocoa beans. More research is needed. [link]
In the mean time eating five to nine servings of fruits and vegetables per day may help reduce cancer risk while providing some healthy flavanols and flavanoids. Blackberries, apricots and apples with the skin are sources of flavanols. And green tea, black tea, and red wine are good sources of flavanols in addition to cocoa beans. [link] Increasing use of green leafy herbs may also be helpful to health. Oregano, rosemary, sage and summer savory may be good sources of a variety of antioxidants including the flavonol quercitin and the flavanoid rosmarinic acid. [link] [link]
Available as a downloadable pdf: Phenols, proanthocyanidins, flavones and flavonols in some plant materials and their antioxidant activities / by M. Skerget et. al. / 2003
/Disclaimer: Opinions are my own and the information is provided for educational purposes within the guidelines of fair use. While I am a Registered Dietitian this information is not intended to provide individual health guidance. Please see a health professional for individual health care purposes./