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Esther Heerema, MSW

Hot Cocoa: Drink Up!

By August 18, 2013

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I knew it, or at least I had hoped so- Drinking hot chocolate may be good for your brain! Being a chocolate fan (okay, some might say "addict"), I was thrilled to read a study published in the online journal Neurology that discusses the benefits of drinking hot chocolate.

The research involved 60 people over the age of 65 without dementia; the average age was approximately 73. The study lasted 30 days and the participants were assessed on days 1, 2 and 30 of the study. The assessments included cognitive tests such as the Trail Making Tests A & B and a Transcranial Doppler study which measured blood flow in the brain.

The participants received packets of hot cocoa (provided by Mars) and were instructed to mix a packet in a cup of hot water and drink it twice a day. Half of the participants received packets containing flavanol-rich cocoa and the other half contained flavanol-poor cocoa.

The results demonstrated a significant improvement in the cognitive testing scores, as well as an improvement in neurovascular coupling (blood flow to areas in the brain that are doing work) of those who began the study with reduced blood flow in the brain. Interestingly, these results were the same whether the participants had received the flavanol-rich cocoa or the flavanol-poor cocoa.

Of note, this is one of many studies that has evaluated the benefits of chocolate. Last year, a study was published that noted benefits of flavanol-rich chocolate but did not see cognitive improvement with chocolate low in flavanol.

Although this current study is small in scope, it still provides some interesting (chocolate) food for thought. Meanwhile, I'm off to drink some hot cocoa!


August 19, 2013 at 4:06 pm
(1) ACH3698 says:

What if the person DOES have dementia? Will the hot cocoa make a difference?

August 20, 2013 at 1:29 am
(2) Dr Billy Levin says:

Even eating dark chocolates have a beneficial value for the brain for young and old.

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