Trick or… chocolate and memory!

Posted by on Oct 31, 2014 in memory/learning | 0 comments



Credit: Mars Chocolate, Hackettstown

Trick???? Or, Treat?????

Got chocolate on your minds today? Before you raid the candy bowl or your children’s haul for the evening, you may want to consider the following:

Halloween chocolate is not going to improve your memory.

I know! It was all over the news.

And, while it is true that study findings appearing last Sunday in the online edition of Nature Neuroscience demonstrated that dietary cocoa flavonals — natural compounds that are found in cocoa –reversed age-related memory decline in 37 people between the ages of 50 and 60, the media didn’t pain the entire story.

The findings…when the researchers administered brain imaging and memory tests to the volunteers given a drink containing 900 mg flavonals, they saw noticeable improvements in both the function of the region of the brain critical to memory (called the dentate gyrus) and in the ability to recognize and recall patterns. They explained that if a person had the memory of a 60-year-old at the beginning of the study, after three months, memory improved to that of a 30-year old.

Pretty cool!

However, here’s the rub: the product used in the study is not the same as commercially-available chocolate; in fact, cocoa flavonals are only found in very small amounts in average chocolate bars. To realize any similar benefits, you’d need to eat about seven dark chocolate bars or 100 grams of baking cocoa daily. And, the study authors say that the amount of flavonals vary depending on processing.

An alternative way to improve memory and dentate gyrus function, at least in younger people, is exercise.

So, the idea that Halloween candy will improve your memory is simply a trick. If you want this treat, you’ll need to look away from the candy bowl!

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