People entering their 50s and 60s tend to begin losing some parts of their short-term memory, but compounds found naturally in cocoa may help reverse that occurrence.
Researchers from the Columbia University Medical Center provided a cocoa flavanol-containing test drink to 37 healthy volunteers between the ages of 50 and 69. Some received a high-flavanol diet and others received a low-flavanol diet. Brain imaging was done before and after the test period, and the researchers found a noticeable improvement in the dentate gyrus region of the brain, which is associated with the kind of memory loss they were studying.
The researchers say this kind of treatment is not meant for people suffering from Alzheimer's, but rather healthy adults with no known brain issues beyond regular age-related memory loss. "If a participant had the memory of a typical 60-year-old at the beginning of the study, after three months that person on average had the memory of a typical 30- or 40-year-old," said Dr. Scott A. Small, who was one of the researchers involved in the study. He also added a larger study needs to be done to confirm the results, which his team is planning on doing.
The new research can be found in the latest edition of Nature Neuroscience.