It all started with this study and now men are ordering obscene amounts of cocoa powder… Are you missing out?
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The Cocoa Powder Craze – Why Stores Are Running Out
When the fat is removed from cocoa beans, cocoa or cocoa powder is the solid material that remains.
Cocoa powder is remarkably high in minerals and beneficial compounds such as flavonoids and antioxidants.
It’s one of those foods eaten by people who live to be over 100 years old.
And it has been tested for its effect against mild cognitive impairment – with impressive results.
These researchers carried out their human trial at the University of L’Aquila in Italy and published their results in the Journal of Hypertension.
Cocoa powder contains varying amounts of flavanols – natural compounds with many health benefits.
“Flavanol consumption is favorably associated with cognitive function.”
Mild cognitive impairment occurs as people age.
It can also be a sign of the onset of dementia.
The researchers wanted to test the effect of flavanols on mild cognitive impairment.
“We tested the hypothesis that dietary flavanols might improve cognitive function in subjects with mild cognitive impairment.”
The study used cocoa powder standardized for its flavanol content.
Therefore, when the participants took the cocoa powder the researchers knew how much flavanols they were consuming.
The study recruited 90 men and women.
“We conducted a double-blind, parallel arm study in 90 elderly individuals with mild cognitive impairment.”
The participants got different doses of cocoa (and flavanols) for eight weeks.
“Participants were randomized to consume a drink with high flavanol content, intermediate flavanol content, for low flavanol content.”
The participants consumed the flavanols via a cocoa drink once a day.
The researchers used some of the most common tests to assess cognitive function.
They ran these tests before and after the eight-week trial.
“Cognitive function was assessed by Mini-Mental State Examination, Trail Making Test A and B, and verbal fluency test.”
The researchers found significant improvements in some tests of cognitive function.
“The time required to complete Trail Making Tests was significantly lower in subjects assigned to high flavanols and intermediate flavanols in comparison with those assigned to low flavanols.”
People given the intermediate dose performed better than people on the low dose.
But people on the high dose of flavanol-rich cocoa performed best on the cognitive tests.
In addition, the study found an improvement in language skills with cocoa supplementation.
“Verbal fluency test score was significantly better in subjects assigned to high flavanols in comparison with those assigned to low flavanols.”
High-flavanol cocoa supplementation caused other improvements too…
The researchers found an improvement in blood pressure from high-flavanol cocoa supplementation.
“Blood pressure also decreased among subjects in the high-flavanol and intermediate-flavanol groups.”
Also, insulin resistance decreased with cocoa supplementation.
“Insulin resistance decreased among subjects in the high and intermediate – flavanol groups.”
The researchers believe that the change in insulin resistance may be responsible for much of the improvement in cognitive function.
High-flavanol cocoa powder may be beneficial for people with mild cognitive impairment.
“This is the first dietary intervention study demonstrating that the regular consumption of cocoa flavanols might be effective in improving cognitive function in elderly subjects with mild cognitive impairment.”
25 gm of lightly processed cocoa powder would deliver the same amount of flavanols used in the high-dose group in this study.
(That would deliver 1 gm of cocoa flavanols.)
Some examples of lightly processed cocoa powder with high flavanol content: Blommer Natural, ECOM-ASA Natural, Gerkens Bamboo, and Hershey Regular.
Highly processed cocoa powder has a much lower flavanol content – only about 10% of the more natural cocoa powders.
So you would need about 250 gm per day to get the same amount of flavanol used in the high-dose group.
One potential problem with cocoa powder is its high iron content.
Scientists believe that iron causes some problems related to cognitive impairment.
So it would probably be better to consume smaller amounts of high-flavanol cocoa powder.
You should always consult a healthcare practitioner for treating and diagnosing health problems.
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- Benefits in cognitive function, blood pressure, and insulin resistance through cocoa flavanol consumption in elderly subjects with mild cognitive impairment: the Cocoa, Cognition, and Aging (CoCoA) study.
- Effects of cocoa powder and dark chocolate on LDL oxidative ... - NCBI
- Cocoa: a sweet treat for the brain?