What can't chocolate do? Researchers have found that a compound found in cocoa (and, believe it or not, some vegetables) can increase connectivity and blood flow in the brain, reversing age-related memory loss.
This is the first direct evidence that memory loss that occurs as people get older is caused by changes in the dentate gyrus region of the hippocampus, The Washington Post says. For this study, 37 healthy people between the ages of 50 to 69 were randomly given 900 milligrams of flavanol or 10 milligrams (for reference, a small candy bar usually has around 40 milligrams). Researchers then gave patients brain scans that measured the blood volume in the dentate gyrus and conducted memory tests, and found that after 90 days a person with the memory typical of a 60-year-old would function at the level of a 30- or 40-year-old.
But, don't go crazy with the candy bars just yet; Scott Small, professor of neurology and director of the Alzheimer's Disease Research Center at the Taub Institute at Columbia University Medical Center, says people would have to eat a massive amount of chocolate to reap the benefits. "It would make a lot of people happy, but it would also make them unhealthy," he told the Post.
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The study was published Sunday in Nature Neuroscience, and the chocolate company Mars produced the flavanol test drink that was used during the research. The study's authors also stress that the sample size was very small, and more research is needed before you can start mainlining chocolate.
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