Hot Chocolate May Improve Cerebral Blood Flow, Cognitive Health
In order for the brain to function properly, it needs to have unimpaired blood flow. If blood flow in the brain is impaired, it can lead to cognitive decline. A recent study suggests that drinking two cups of hot chocolate a day may improve blood flow in the brain and improve memory and thinking skills.
Participants in the study included 60 individuals with an average age of 73. 18 of them had impaired blood flow at the onset of the study but none had dementia.
Over the course of 30 days, they drank a cup of either high-flavanol or low-flavanol hot chocolate twice daily. The researchers conducted memory and thinking skills tests to test cognitive function. They also administered ultrasounds to measure blood flow to the brain during the tests.
At the conclusion of the study, the researchers noted that the participants who had impaired blood flow at the beginning of the study had an 8.3% improvement at the end of the study. Additionally, their working memory test times improved by 30%.
No changes were noted in individuals with normal blood flow. There were also no differences in results between the high and low flavanol hot cocoa groups.
The researchers also conducted MRI scans on the brains of 24 participants to look for areas of brain damage. They found that the people with impaired blood flow had tiny areas of brain damage, which could contribute to future cognitive problems.
Researchers from the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine conducted the study. It was published on August 7, 2013, in Neurology.
Chocolate isn’t just good for improving your brain health. It has also been shown to improve mood, heart health, insulin resistance, and reduce blood pressure. To get the full health benefits of chocolate, consume darker chocolates, which contain more flavanols.
It’s important to keep in mind that excessive consumption of chocolate could negate the positive effects seen here and in other studies, as chocolate also has high fat, sugar, and calorie content. Your best bet is to eat small amounts of dark chocolate with high cocoa content.