A daily dose of chocolate could improve the brain function and help keep dementia and Alzheimer's at bay, a new study has claimed.
Researchers found that consuming cocoa every day helped improve mild cognitive impairment a condition involving memory loss which can progress to dementia or Alzheimer's in elderly patients.
The study involved 90 people aged 70 or older diagnosed with mild cognitive impairment who were split into three groups of 30 and given either a high, medium or low dose of a cocoa drink daily, a American Heart association statement said.
The drink contained flavanols chemicals associated with a decreased dementia risk which are found in a variety of foods, including cocoa products such as dark chocolate.
The participants' diet was restricted to eliminate other sources of flavanols, such as tea or red wine.
Their cognitive function was examined using tests of factors including working memory and processing speed.
Researchers found those who consumed high and medium doses daily had significantly better cognitive scores by the end of the eight-week study in a number of categories, including working memory, the statement said.
Those given the higher doses of the flavanol drink improved far more than those given the lowest dose, the study, published in the journal 'Hypertension' said.
Insulin resistance and blood pressure also decreased in those drinking high and medium doses of the flavanol drink.
"This study provides encouraging evidence that consuming cocoa flavanols, as a part of a calorie-controlled and nutritionally-balanced diet, could improve cognitive
function," said Giovambattista Desideri, study lead author and director of Geriatric Division, University of L'Aquila, Italy.
"Given the global rise in cognitive disorders, which have a true impact on an individual's quality of life, the role of cocoa flavanols in preventing or slowing the progression of mild cognitive impairment to dementia warrants further research," Desideri said.