Tasty Solution to Senior Moments: Chocolate

Its antioxidants drastically improve scores on memory tests: study
By Matt Cantor,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 27, 2014 6:19 AM CDT
Tasty Solution to Senior Moments: Chocolate
Dark chocolate bars are ready to be wrapped.   (AP Photo/Stephan Savoia)

A new study—conveniently timed around Halloween—points to a tasty way to improve our memories. For three months, study subjects ages 50 to 69 consumed a drink full of cocoa flavanols, which are antioxidants. On a memory test, the subjects scored about 25% higher than did another group whose drink was lower in flavanols. The test looked at the kind of memory linked to remembering where you parked your car or what your new friend looks like, the New York Times reports. Those drinking the high-flavanol mixture showed scores comparable to people several decades younger; an average 60-year-old in the study, for instance, demonstrated memory on par with a 30- or 40-year-old, Scientific American reports. What's more, they showed increased activity in a part of the brain associated with such remembering.

"They got this really remarkable increase in a place in the brain that we know is related to age-related memory change," says an outside expert. What they didn't show, however, was a boost in activity in a part of the brain that's damaged in the early stages of Alzheimer's disease—so chocolate may not offer protection against that disorder. And unfortunately, Snickers bars aren't going to do much for your memory: You'd need to eat some seven bars of dark chocolate per day to get the levels of the epicatechin flavanol that study subjects were getting (900mg per day in the higher-flavanol group, Science Daily reports). One more note: The study was partially funded by candy giant Mars, though a scientist says it wasn't biased. (Read more chocolate stories.)

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