Daily Hot Chocolate May Ward Off Alzheimer's, Study Finds

Thursday, 08 Aug 2013 07:00 PM

By Morgan Chilson

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Indulging in two cups of hot chocolate every day may help ward off Alzheimer’s Disease by encouraging blood flow in the brain, according to new medical research.

In a journal Neurology article, Harvard Medical School researchers found that drinking hot cocoa regularly improved cognitive function, Medical News Today reported.

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The research involved following 60 people with an average age of 73 who had no signs of dementia and then tracking them with two specific cognitive tests as they consumed two cups of hot chocolate every day for 30 days.

The Harvard researchers used ultrasound to look at “neurovascular coupling,” which indicates blood flows changes in the brain due to local brain activity, and also tested the participants with a series of standard tests that highlighted memory, the medical publication said.

The research found that 18 of the 60 people had blood flow issues at the start of the study. After drinking the hot cocoa, there was an 8 percent increase in the blood circulation in their brain, and they also improved memory test scores by more than 50 seconds. But people who had normal blood flow did not see those improvements, CBS News reported.

One of the study’s authors, Farzaneh Sorond, M.D., Ph.D., cautioned against reading too much into this study. Although it shows a positive direction for further study, chocolate certainly isn’t a cure-all.

“I would be uncomfortable in recommending chocolate for brain health,” she told the AARP, adding that increased calorie and sugar intake might not help what she called an “at-risk” population.

But Paul Rosenberg, M.D., at Johns Hopkins, told the AARP that the study is a first step and sounds “promising.” Like Sorond, he was most impressed that an easy way was found to measure blood flow in the brain and that the test found that putting certain things in the blood can change that blood flow.

Too bad for chocolate aficionados everywhere, Rosenberg still recommends a “brisk walk” for brain health, he told the AARP.

In an email, Rosenberg wrote, “Absolutely. No contest. Go for a walk. Don’t sit and pack in the chocolate!”

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Related stories:

Earliest Chocolate Discovered in Ancient Settlement in Utah: Report

North America's Chocolate Addiction May Have Started 1,200 Years Ago

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