According to researchers, drinking cocoa can increase mental agility thanks to the flavanols it contains. They found that people given cocoa beverages containing high levels of flavanols could complete certain challenging cognitive tasks more efficiently than when drinking non-flavanol-rich drinks.
Participants who consumed flavanol-rich drinks increased blood oxygen saturation in the frontal lobe, a brain region that plays an important role in behavioral planning, coordination, and decision-making, faster and more.
“Drinking a glass of cocoa flavanols not only increases oxygenated hemoglobin compared to low-flavanol beverages, but also rises faster, improving blood oxygenation levels in the frontal lobe of the brain. Oxygenation is the key to cognition, and impaired processes are common in the elderly and those at high risk of cardiovascular disease and dementia, so looking to the future, these beneficial effects are We would like to test if we can convert to these populations that are most likely to benefit, “said Dr. Catalina Rendero, a nutrition teacher at the Faculty of Sport. & The University of Birmingham’s Rehabilitation Science tells MEAWW.
Dr. Lendero led the study with Dr. Monica Fabiani and Dr. Gabriele Gratton, professors of psychology at the University of Illinois. The authors found that the findings included a dietary strategy containing plant-derived flavanols to increase blood oxygen saturation and cognitive abilities in healthy populations and high-risk populations such as smokers, hypertension, and diabetics. It emphasizes that it may have a significant future impact on its use. Elderly — or to help recover and treat brain damage or illness.
“The fact that flavanols are effective in improving brain oxygenation and cognitive function even in healthy brains is a noteworthy finding that all of us can potentially benefit from a flavanol-rich diet. Means, “emphasizes Dr. Lendiro.
Flavanols, a subgroup of plant flavonoids, are found in cocoa, grapes, apples, tea, berries and other foods. Although they are known to have beneficial effects on cardiovascular health, their effects on brain health are not well understood.Therefore, now analysisThe association between flavanol cognitive effects and cerebral oxygen saturation in young and healthy subjects was investigated in Scientific Reports.
The team recruited adult nonsmokers with unknown brain, heart, blood vessel, and respiratory illnesses. We believe that the effects seen in this population provide solid evidence that dietary flavanols can improve brain function in healthy people. They tested 18 participants (ages 18-40) prior to taking cocoa flavanols and tested them in two separate trials.
Neither participants nor researchers knew what kind of cocoa was consumed in each trial. The design of such a double-blind study prevents the expectations of the researcher or participant from affecting the results.
Approximately two hours after ingesting cocoa, participants breathed air containing 5% carbon dioxide (about 100 times the normal concentration in the air), producing an effect called hypercapnia. .. This is the standard way to “challenge the cerebrovascular system,” Dr. Gratton explains, to determine how well it responds. The body usually responds by increasing blood flow to the brain. “This brings more oxygen and allows the brain to eliminate more carbon dioxide,” he adds.
The team tracked the increase in frontal lobe cerebral oxygenation in response to this carbon dioxide challenge, using functional near-infrared spectroscopy, a technique that uses light to capture changes in blood flow to the brain. did. Following the carbon dioxide test, participants were asked to complete several progressively complex cognitive tests.
Researchers have found that participants who drank flavanol-rich drinks showed the highest levels of blood oxygenation, up to three times higher than those who drank non-flavanol-rich drinks. They also achieved these elevated levels one minute earlier than participants who drank unconcentrated cocoa.
In cognitive tests, researchers found that there was a significant difference in the speed and accuracy with which volunteers completed more complex tasks. Volunteers who drank flavanol-rich drinks solved the problem correctly, on average 11% faster. According to the author, improved oxygenation levels during the carbon dioxide challenge may be associated with cognitive outcomes. However, there was no measurable difference in the performance of simple tasks.
“Young adults experienced improved cognitive abilities in the Stroop task (measurement of executive function), but only when the level of cognitive challenge was high. This is because flavanols have a beneficial effect on cognitive challenges. It suggests that it can only appear if it is high enough. Perhaps young healthy brains can actually benefit from flavanol intake only if the oxygenation requirements in the brain are high enough. You can, “Dr. Fabiani told MEAWW.
The researchers focused on further results. Within the study cohort was a small group (4 of 18) who did not benefit from flavanol-enriched beverages in terms of blood oxygen levels and did not improve performance in the test. This group showed existing high levels of cerebral oxygenation from the beginning, but was not further increased by drinking concentrated cocoa.
“In addition, we observed that some volunteers did not actually benefit from flavanol intake, both in terms of brain oxygenation and cognitive ability. These individuals also happened to be the best / healthiest. Given their blood oxygen saturation, these individuals are already performing at their best and do not appear to benefit further from flavanol intake. Why these subjects responded more Is currently unknown, but may be associated with a higher level of fitness, but this study did not measure this, “explains Dr. Lendiro.
She concludes that this small group “provides additional evidence to confirm the association between increased cerebral oxygen saturation and cognitive performance.”
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