There seems to be a bit of a debate about whether or not chocolate is good for you. On the one hand there is increasing evidence that the substances found in cocoa called flavonoids, seem to be protective, but on the other hand, cocoa is so bitter that there has to be a lot of sugar and fat added to make it palatable. So, much will naturally depend on how you consume it.
In an Italian study, a group of elderly participants who drank high-dose cocoa showed significantly reduced cognitive impairment. They also had lower levels of insulin resistance, lower blood pressure and oxidative stress, the ageing factor. Some of those participants who performed best in cognitive tests also had lowered insulin resistance levels. Published in the American Heart Association's journal, Hypertension, the researchers said they had found evidence that drinking cocoa flavanols as part of a calorie-controlled and nutritionally-balanced diet could improve cognitive function.
Mild cognitive impairment can include difficulty with:
The thought is that the improvements in cognition could be due to the cocoa flavanols that affect cardiovascular functioning. The lead researcher said: "...the role of cocoa flavanols in preventing or slowing the progression of mild cognitive impairment to dementia was worthy of further research, given the global rise in cognitive disorders".
The team concluded that flavanols could be one element of a dietary approach to maintaining and improving not only cardiovascular health, but also, brain health. However, experts cautioned people against thinking that they should start eating chocolate every day on the basis of a single study.