Is Cocoa the Brain Drug of the Future?

... raw cocoa may be packed with brain-boosting compounds. Researchers at the University of L'Aquila in Italy, with scientists from Mars, Inc., and their colleagues published findings last September that suggest cognitive function in the elderly is improved by ingesting high levels of natural compounds found in cocoa called flavanols. The study included 90 individuals with mild cognitive impairment, a precursor to Alzheimer's disease. Subjects who drank a cocoa beverage containing either moderate or high levels of flavanols daily for eight weeks demonstrated greater cognitive function than those who consumed low levels of flavanols on three separate tests that measured factors that included verbal fluency, visual searching and attention. Exactly how cocoa causes these changes is still unknown, but emerging research points to one flavanol in particular: (-)-epicatechin, pronounced “minus epicatechin.”

Tragically for chocoholics, most methods of processing cocoa remove many of the flavanols found in the raw plant. Even dark chocolate, touted as the “healthy” option, can be treated such that the cocoa darkens while flavanols are stripped. Researchers are only beginning to establish standards for measuring flavanol content in chocolate. A typical one and a half ounce chocolate bar might contain about 50 milligrams of flavanols, which means you would need to consume 10 to 20 bars daily to approach the flavanol levels used in the University of L'Aquila study.

Tags: flavanols

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Replies to This Discussion

How about (undutched) cocoa powder?

As far as I know it's still processed, not raw.

I cannot find what undutched it - tell me more, Grinning Cat!

I meant cocoa powder that hasn't been "dutch processed" with alkali for a mellower taste. (Don't think there's any way to reverse that.)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dutch_process_chocolate

http://www.davidlebovitz.com/2010/02/cocoa-powder-faq-dutch-process-v/

Thanks Grinning Cat, that was all  new to me.

This was a double-blind controlled study, I found the abstract.  However some of the authors are associated with Mars Bars, so results might be biased.

Not sure where to get raw cocoa... Especially outside the US...

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