Chocolate, despite being the greatness that presumably makes up Nutella, is emerging as a nutritional powerhouse — perhaps the food that is the most delicious and good for you of all delicious and good for you foods.
In addition to being full of heart-healthy compounds, chocolate has proven to exhibit a dizzying array of general health benefits. And now researchers say that cocoa flavanols could protect against cognitive decline — essentially, senility — in certain older folks susceptible to the aging-related symptom.
One caveat: The study was, in part, sponsored by Mars, makers of the namesake (and sinful when deep-fried) Mars Bar. Study researchers wrote in the medical journal Hypertension that they discovered a link between daily chocolate consumption and a reduction in cognitive decline in the early stages of elderly dementia.
Study author Dr. Giovambattista Desideri is Director of the Geriatric Division of the University of L’Aquila, and Desideri writes:
“For the first time, regular cocoa flavanol consumption has been shown to positively affect cognitive function in older adults with early memory decline… Importantly, the improvements in cognitive function were seen over a relatively short period of time; and, while further research is required to confirm and expand on these findings, this provides encouraging evidence that regular consumption of cocoa flavanols might be effective in improving cognitive function in elderly subjects with Mild Cognitive Impairment.”
Desideri says that the findings could be applied therapeutically — one hopes in directing us all to eat chocolate every day — to protect against early decline in cognitive function in seniors:
“The findings provide promising indications that the development of novel dietary approaches for improving health as we age – especially cognitive health – is a real possibility.”
In addition to cognitive benefits, chocolate is known to have protective effects for cardiovascular health as well.