Chocolate could be good for memory

A new study suggests that a natural compound found in chocolate, tea and some vegetables could reverse age-related memory loss. The compound, called flavanols, can increase connectivity and blood flow in a part of the brain which is critical for memory function and it also has the potential to reverse mild memory loss in older adults. As if we need more reasons to love chocolate.

The study involved subjects aged from 50 to 69, who were given either a high-flavanol diet of 900 milligrams a day, or a low flavanol diet of 10 milligrams per day. Brain scans and memory tests were used to assess the effects of the diet.

Results showed that a person who had a typical memory of a 60-year-old at the beginning of the study, would have a memory that functioned more like a 30 or 40-year-old person after three months on the high flavanol diet. Researchers have cautioned against too much excitement and say that more work was needed because of the study’s small sample size. Still, this ‘snack-sized’ sample may be enough to suggest that flavanols have the potential to reverse age-related memory loss without using drugs.

But gorging yourself on chocolate to improve your memory is not the answer (sigh), because the compound found in cocoa only occurs in miniscule amounts. Most cocoa processing methods actually remove many of the flavanols found in chocolate so a typical candy bar only contains around 40 milligrams of flavanol.

Chocolate maker Mars produced the test drink designed for the research. And it’s probably worth noting that it also footed part of the bill for the study.

Do you love chocolate? Or is that a silly question?


Written by Leon Della Bosca

Leon Della Bosca has worked in publishing and media in one form or another for around 25 years. He's a voracious reader, word spinner and art, writing, design, painting, drawing, travel and photography enthusiast. You'll often find him roaming through galleries or exploring the streets of his beloved Melbourne and surrounding suburbs, sketchpad or notebook in hand, smiling.