“At no other time has Nature concentrated such a wealth of valuable nourishment into such a small space as in the cocoa bean.”Alexander Von Humboldt
For the majority of us, cognitive function decline brought on by aging is unavoidable. I have devoted my professional career, together with colleagues in academic and commercial facilities, to the pursuit of a potent pharmaceutical therapy for cognitive decline.
None have been uncovered as of yet. It is now abundantly obvious that cognitive deterioration, and in particular Alzheimer’s disease, is very much a lifestyle issue that may be treated with dietary changes.
The bioactive compounds found in cocoa have been shown in recent research to have neuroprotective effects on aged individuals. Over two hundred thousand participants in over nineteen different clinical trials participated in cross-sectional research that used a battery of neuropsychological tests to assess working memory, global cognition, visual-spatial memory, and other cognitive skills.
The subjects ranged from 23 to 98 years; their average intake of chocolate was eight to 10 grams per day. The maximal beneficial effect on cognitive performance occurred at a daily intake of 10 grams.
The trials ranged in length from many months to many years, and the outcomes were contrasted with those of people who ate chocolate infrequently or never.
Together, these studies showed that people who ate chocolate at least once a week had significantly superior scores on all cognitive tests. Even after adjusting for dietary preferences and other lifestyle characteristics, the association remained unchanged.
For quantities of chocolate equivalent to an average weekly intake of about three pieces of a chocolate bar, one chocolate snack, or one tablespoon of cocoa powder, the lower risk of cognitive decline was statistically significant.
According to a significant study involving 91,891 participants aged 55 to 74 who consumed about 15 grams of chocolate per week and were monitored for nearly 13.5 years, eating chocolate was inversely related to the probability of dying from any cause. Additionally, these participants’ risk of Alzheimer’s disease-related mortality was decreased. Unfortunately, their findings prevented a distinction between milk and dark chocolate.
Analyses of serum samples from some participants found that the cocoa metabolites cyclo(prolyl-valyl), theobromine, and 3-methylxanthine (a metabolite of theobromine) were correlated with chocolate intake and negatively associated with cognitive decline. Chocolate is rich in powerful antioxidant polyphenols called proanthocyanidins. The benefits on cognitive function may be brought on by two of them, catechin and epicatechin, which can pass the blood-brain barrier.
About 90% of the other potentially advantageous chemicals found in chocolate cannot enter the brain because they cannot be absorbed by the intestines. However, many of these polyphenols appear to be capable of being converted by the microbiota in the colon into bioavailable compounds, enabling their advantageous systemic activities.
Thus, the primary components of cocoa as well as the gut metabolites produced by the microbiota are both responsible for the beneficial effects of cocoa flavanols on human health. Epicatechin and catechin are the most abundant monomeric flavanol in cocoa powder. Cocoa contains at least ten different psychoactive compounds, such as methylxanthines (e.g., caffeine and theobromine) and anandamide.
Many of the cognitive advantages of epicatechin in humans, according to recent studies, may result from indirect vasodilatation mechanisms that increase blood flow to the brain and peripheral tissues.
In conclusion, a thorough analysis of the available research clearly suggests that consuming cocoa regularly and in sufficient amounts over a long period of time may slow the progression of cognitive deterioration.