Chalk up another potential health benefit attributed to chocolate. Researchers with the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai have found that a cocoa extract called Lavado may reduce damage to nerve pathways typically seen in Alzheimer's disease patients' brains long before they develop symptoms.
The findings, published in the Journal of Alzheimer's Disease, are based on laboratory studies involving mice genetically engineered to mimic Alzheimer's disease.
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But the researchers said the same mechanisms are at work in Alzheimer's patients and the study suggests that Lavado prevents certain proteins in the brain — known as amyloid plaques — from clumping together in the brain, damaging nerve cells as Alzheimer's progresses, Medical Xpress
Lavado cocoa is primarily composed of polyphenols, antioxidants also found in fruits and vegetables, that past studies have found prevent degenerative diseases of the brain.
"Our data suggest that Lavado cocoa extract prevents the abnormal [plaques that cause] cognitive decline," said lead researcher Giulio Maria Pasinetti, M.D. "Given that cognitive decline in Alzheimer's disease is thought to start decades before symptoms appear, we believe our results have broad implications for the prevention of Alzheimer's disease and dementia."
The new study indicates Lavado cocoa extract may modify the physical structure of the plaques. As a result the extract could pave the way for potential new drugs or dietary supplements to treat or even prevent Alzheimer's.
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