Studies show that eating dark chocolate has numerous health benefits, from boosting your mood to helping keep your heart healthy. And now there could be another one to add to the list.
Health researchers from the University of L'Aquila in Italy say dark chocolate can help tackle dementia and Alzheimer's disease in older people.
They found that consuming cocoa co every day helped improve mild cognitive impairment, a memory loss condition which can lead to dementia or Alzheimer's.
The study, which surveyed 90 people over the age of 70 with mild cognitive impairment, tested their reaction to different daily doses of cocoa and the effect it had on their memory.
It was found that flavonols, the chemicals found in cocoa and dark chocolate, decreased dementia risk, and that those who drank medium to high doses of cocoa daily had significantly better cognitive scores when re-tested.
Those who consumed high amounts of flavonols also had lower blood pressure and their insulin resistance decreased.
"This study provides encouraging evidence that consuming cocoa flavonols as part of a calorie-controlled and nutritionally-balanced diet could improve cognitive function," lead author of the study, Dr Giovambattista Desideri, said.
"Larger studies are needed to validate the findings, figure out how long the positive effects will last and determine the levels of cocoa flavonols required for benefit."
Other medical professionals aren’t so convinced about the study.
"Cocoa-based treatments for brain function would likely have patients queuing out the door, but this small study of flavonols is not yet conclusive," Dr Laura Phipps, of Alzheimer's Research UK, said.
The research was funded by chocolate manufacturer Mars INC and was published in the American Heart Association’s journal Hypertension.
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