Sweet news! Chocolate may help improve memory

Chocolate
Chocolate

Researchers find that plant compounds called flavanols are the key to reducing memory loss. (Photo: Dasha Petrenko/Shutterstock)

Good news chocolate lovers! New research has found that a compound found in chocolate may help improve memory skills and reduce the memory loss that often accompanies old age.

It’s all about the flavanols. Researchers have found that these plant compounds – found in chocolate – are the key to the improvements.

In a new study, researchers from Columbia University Medical Center tested a special cocoa drink – highly concentrated with flavanols – to determine their effect on memory. The study, which was published in the journal Nature Neuroscience, found that participants who drank a high-flavanol cocoa for three months performed better on a memory test than people who drank a low-flavanol mixture.

“If a participant had the memory of a typical 60-year-old at the beginning of the study, after three months that person on average had the memory of a typical 30- or 40-year-old,” said Dr. Scott Small,  a neurologist at Columbia University Medical Center and the study’s senior author.

For the study, researchers examined the memory skills of 37 healthy adults, aged 50 to 69. About half of the participants were asked to consume a high-flavanol diet of about 900 mg of flavanols a day while the remaining participants followed a low-flavanol diet of 10 mg of flavanols a day for three months. Researchers performed functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) scans and also memory tests on all participants at the beginning and at the end of the study.

After three months, researchers found that the high-flavanol group showed noticeable improvements in an area of the brain called the dentate gyrus, which has been linked to this type of memory, and is often affected by aging. These participants also performed about 25 percent better on memory tests than their low-flavanol peers.

But researchers warn that as promising as these results are, you shouldn’t try to duplicate them at home. The cocoa that the participants drank was no ordinary cocoa but a proprietary drink made by Mars, Inc which is rich in flavanols and is not yet available on store shelves. To get this amount of flavanols in your daily diet you would need to eat at least 300 grams of dark chocolate a day — or about seven average-sized bars. Unfortunately, this fat and calorie overload would lead to a whole different series of health issues. And don’t even bother with milk chocolate as most varieties have the flavanols processed right out of them.

Still, it can’t hurt to enjoy a cup of cocoa in the evening while remembering the days gone by.

Win a Garmin Forerunner 405 with Heart Rate Monitor and USB!

Garmin 405
Garmin 405

Every $10 donation to Girls on the Run gives you a chance to win!

It’s here! Last week, I mentioned that I recently won a Garmin Forerunner 405 running watch through my fundraising for Girls on the Run. And as much as I would LOVE to keep this watch for myself, I think this is the perfect opportunity to raise even more $$ for the team. So I am raffling off this watch and for every $10 donation, you get a chance to win!

Here’s a little backstory: On November 2, I am running the New York City Marathon as a SoleMate for Girls on the Run. I set a goal to raise $3,000 for the team and I am so close to getting there! Check out my fundraising page to see how close I really am!!

So I am raffling off this gorgeous GPS running watch. Just donate $10 to my fundraising page and I’ll throw your name in a  hat to win. Every $10 donation gets you a chance so if you donate $50, you’ll be entered five times! Shipping is included, no matter where you are in the world.

Here is a pic of the ACTUAL watch you will receive.  photoIt comes with all of the pieces and parts…including software, USB ANT stick, and the heart rate monitor. And the product description from Amazon (where this baby retails for $185:)

  • Touch bezel lets you change screens with a simple tap (no more fumbling for buttons)
  • Training features that continuously monitors your time, distance, pace, calories and heart rate (when paired with heart rate monitor)
  • ANT + Sport wireless platform wirelessly sends your data to your computer
  • Includes both the USB ANT Stick and Heart Rate Monitor
  • Download recorded courses to compete against previous workouts or race a Virtual Partner

Want to win? Grab your $10 and head over to my Girls on the Run fundraising page. Winner will be announced at 5pm on Friday, October 24. Thank you so much to everyone who has donated so far.

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