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Cacao consumption for cognition


Pile of dark chocolate with nuts

You might not need any convincing, but frequent dark chocolate consumption is significantly associated improved memory and, interestingly, enhancement of cognitive function still occurs three weeks after eating. [1] Let’s look at the research for justifying your intake!

Dark chocolate may be helpful for aged people to improve or recover their neurovascular connectivity, and its long-term cognitive protection could particularly affect populations at risk or with early cognitive decline.

Recent 2020 and 2022 studies reported the main improvements in processing speed, executive function and working memory were observed when consuming cocoa drinks containing 500-900 mg of flavanols. [2,3]

Cacao contains antioxidant molecules, mainly flavonoids, most abundantly found in the form of epicatechin. These substances display several beneficial actions on the brain, crossing the blood-brain-barrier, inducing widespread stimulation of brain perfusion, and provoking angiogenesis, neurogenesis and changes in neuron morphology, mainly in regions involved in learning and memory. [4]

Cacao seems to affect, directly or indirectly, signal pathways involved in neuronal death and neuroprotection, supporting the possibility of its use as preventive agent for neurodegenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer’s, suggesting that the regular dietary inclusion could be one dietary element for maintaining and improving brain health. [5]

Both animal and human studies suggest a potential neuroprotective action of long-term consumption cacao, containing alkaloid theobromine, via a reduction of amyloid pathology (amyloid-beta), which is commonly observed in Alzheimer's disease patients' brains. [6]


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