Chocolate improving brain function? Sounds to good to be true? It's not, if you're eating the right chocolate.
According to research by the American Heart Association, having your daily chocolate fix could improve your cognitive function.
Cocoa, the main ingredient in chocolate, contains antioxidants called flavanols. It can contain great quantities of flavanols if the cocoa hasn't been alkalized (which is called non-Dutched cocoa). The Dutch process destroys 60-90% of the natural cocoas original antioxidants (flavanols). So choose a chocolate bar that is 70% , 80%, or even 90% non-Dutch cocoa.
Small amounts of flavanols occur in grapes, red wine and apples but large quantities occur in green tea and natural cocoa. These flavanols have been linked with a decreased risk of dementia. They are believed to directly protect the neurons (your brain cells), improve your metabolism and maintain memory capacity. Flavanols benefit us by stimulating the body's antioxidant network, boosting blood flow to the brain and moderates immune system signals.
Alzheimer's & other forms of dementia effects 1 in 8 people age 65 or older and is the sixth leading cause of death in the US (2012 Alzheimers Disease Facts & Figures). It is encouraging to find the possibility that regular consumption of these flavanols could be a measure of prevention for lowered cognitive performance.
During a study, 90 elderly patients with mild cognitive impairment consumed specific amounts of flavanols for 8 weeks. After the study they were then retested and measured the patients decision making/ judgement functions, working memory, short term memory, long-term memory, mental processing speed and overall cognitive ability.
When comparing the scores, researchers found positive changes in the groups that consumed the largest amounts of cocoa (520-990 mg 3 times per day).
These patients had higher cognitive scores, reduced insulin resistence, blood pressure reduction, reduced oxidative stress, greatly improved visual acuteness and a significantly improved working memory, task switching and verbal memory.
Other highlights of research studies on cocoa flavanols show:
1. Regular consumption increases blood flow to the brain which could have promising effects on cognitive performance.
2. Regular consumption in postmenopausal women resulted in increased blood flow in those who had high cholesterol, suggesting it may improve vascular function.
3. Has been shown to decrease the potential formation of blood clots which may reduce the events that can lead to vascular damage.
So next time you reach for dessert drop the cake and ice cream and reach for cocoa instead. Sit back and enjoy yourself while reducing insulin resistence, blood pressure, increase your overall memory and blood flow!
Tuesday, August 14, 2012
Brushing and flossing properly and regularly, seeing you dentist at least twice a year can actually save your life! Research shows that if you have gum disease and it is treated promptly and completely, your blood vessel health will improve in as little as 6 months. Dr. Bertolini also checks his patients for oral cancer at each examination. Here are some tips to keep your mouth healthy, which will keep you healthy! Brush twice daily, in the morning & before bed. Brush throuoghly - click to watch a video Brush your tongue, remember that white coating we get in the morning is plaque & if you get rid of it, you get rid of bad breath and the breeding ground for bacteria. Use a mouth rinse containing xylitol. The benefits of xylitol are many, read our previous blog about it for more info (titled What is xylitol? June 10, 2010.) Floss daily!! Click to watch video. See your dentist 2 or more times of year. Avoid sticky sweet foods, the prolonged contact causes damage to your teeth. Don't smoke. Tobacco increases your risk of gum disease & makes the disease more difficult to treat. If you need resources to stop smoking, visit our website.