Cocoa flavanols found organically in cocoa, hold promise in the treatment of dementia and stroke and may actually retard the cognitive decline, so typical of victims suffering dementia.
In the study involving older adults ages 59 to 83, Harvard medical scientists found that the participants who regularly drank a cocoa flavanol-rich beverage made using the Mars, Incorporated Cocoapro process had increased the brain blood flow by 8 pct after one week and 10 percent increase after two weeks.
Scientists believe that maintaining an increased blood flow to the brain could slow the cognitive decline in debilitating brain conditions
"The totality of the research on cocoa flavanols is impressive. This is just one more study adding to an increasing body of literature connecting regular cocoa flavanol consumption to blood flow and vascular health improvements throughout the body," said Harold Schmitz, Ph.D., chief science officer at Mars, Incorporated.
"Though more research is needed, these findings raise the possibility that flavanol-rich cocoa products could be developed to help slow brain decline in older age," he added.
Contrary to previous study results, vascular effects of cocoa flavanols are independent of general "antioxidant" effects that cocoa flavanols exhibit in a test tube, outside of the body.
The body of research not only suggests that cocoa flavanols may provide a dietary approach to maintaining cardiovascular function and health, but also points at new possibilities for cocoa flavanol-based interventions for vascular complications associated with cognitive performance, skin health and age-related blood vessel dysfunction.
The study is published in the Neuropsychiatric Disease and Treatment journal.