Researchers suggest having two cups of hot cocoa each day could help prevent the cognitive decline associated with aging and Alzheimer’s disease.
Researchers from Harvard Medical School say hot cocoa works by increasing blood flow to the brain, particularly areas of the brain associated with memory and cognition. They believe it works by increasing something called neurovascular coupling, where blood flow actually changes in response to local brain activity.
In the study, 60 people with an average age of 73 years and no detectable markers for Alzheimer’s disease, were given two cups of hot cocoa each day for a period of 30 days. During that time they consumed no other chocolate. Then, the participants took memory and thinking skills tests as well as ultrasounds to determine blood flow levels.
“As different areas of the brain need more energy to complete their tasks, they also need greater blood flow,” explained the study’s lead researcher Dr. Farzaneh Sorond. “This relationship called neurovascular coupling, may play an important role in diseases such as Alzheimer’s.”