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High Flavanol Cocoa Drink May Boost Brain Function Post-Exercise

Exercise has been shown in previous studies to improve cognitive function. Now, a recent study suggests that drinking a high-flavanol cocoa drink may enhance the effects of exercise on executive function.


Participants in the study included 10 healthy young men who were given either a beverage with a high level of cocoa flavanols (563 mg) or a low level (38 mg) 70 minutes before moderate-intensity cycling. They then completed 30 minutes of cycling at 60% peak oxygen intake. They also performed a color-word Stroop task and face-name matching task to evaluate executive function and memory function, respectively, six times during the experiment session.


At the conclusion of the study, the researchers noted improvement in executive function in both groups. The high cocoa flavanol group, however, had greater improvements. There were no noticeable improvements in memory in either group.


Researchers from Ritsumeikan University, Japan Institute of Sports Sciences, and Tokyo Medical University conducted the study. It was published online ahead of print on September 26, 2017, in Nutrition.


Flavanols are the naturally occurring antioxidants found in cocoa which have previously been shown to help decrease inflammation, protect DNA from damage and improve heart and brain health by increasing blood flow.

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