Who does not love hot cocoa? It’s yummy, warm and delicious! But did you know that it may have previously unknown health benefits?
According to a study with Harvard Medical School, a few cups of hot cocoa daily could fight mental decline in elder people and improve your memory.
The study involved 60 adults with an average age of 73. None of the participants had dementia at the onset of the study and they were all told to avoid consumption of any other chocolate products. Each participant was given 2 cups of hot chocolate daily for 30 consecutive days.
The researchers found that nearly all participants had improved neurovascular coupling, when local brain activity is stimulated by changes in blood flow.
“The different areas of the brain needs more energy to complete their tasks, added to that it also need greater blood flow. This relationship, which is called neurovascular coupling, may play an important role in diseases such as Alzheimer’s”
Before the study, all of the participants were evaluated using MRI and mental tests. Their memory and thinking skills were evaluated. Ultrasounds were used to measure neurovascular coupling.
Prior to the 30-day period, nearly one-third of participants had impaired neurovascular coupling. Also these 18 participants had damage in the white matter of their brain. Damage which is related to restricted blood flow.
After 30 days of consuming hot cocoa at least twice daily, there were only 5 participants who still had impaired neurovascular coupling.
Added to that, before the study, the participants completed a memory test in an average of 167 seconds. Following the research period, that time was reduced to only 116 seconds, a 30% improvement among all participants.
“There is a strong correlation between cognitive function and neurovascular coupling, both can be improved by regular cocoa consumption in individuals with baseline impairments, as concluded by the researchers.
“Better neurovascular coupling is also linked to greater white matter structural integrity.”
How Hot Chocolate Works?
So what makes hot chocolate great for your brain? It is actually the polyphenols in the chocolate, which makes it beneficial. These antioxidants help increase the blood flow throughout the body and especially the brain.
To get the most benefits from your chocolate consumption, you can choose organic dark chocolate, which contains limited sugar and higher concentrations of the antioxidant compounds.