Consumption of Cocoa and Wine May Enhance Brain Function!

We have all heard that red wine and chocolate may have health benefits and today I am happy to report the rumors are true.  According to a study done by the American Heart Association, consumption of flavanols found in cocoa products, red wine, grapes and apples is linked to enhanced brain function. 

Every year six percent of individuals over the age of 70 develop mild cognitive impairment which can progress to dementia and Alzheimer's disease.  In a study done by the AHA, elderly individuals were asked to drink either a high, moderate or low amount of a dairy-based cocoa flavanol drink for eight weeks.  Cognitive function was then assessed by testing short-term and long-term memory as well as processing speed and global cognition.  The study found that scores were higher among individuals drinking high and moderate amount of flavanols.  Insulin resistance and blood pressure were also decreased among these participants.  According to study director, Dr. Giovambattista Desideri "the study provides encouraging evidence that consuming cocoa flavanols as a part of a calorie-controlled and nutritionally-balanced diet could improve cognitive function".

How should this study affect your patient care?  Well, I think the key words in the study are "as part of a nutritionally balanced and calorie-controlled diet".  Unfortunately, if you gorge yourself on chocolate and red wine, you may not live long enough to need to extend the lifetime of your cognitive function.  Based on the findings of this study, it would be appropriate to recommend consumption of flavanol rich foods to your aging patients especially those beginning to suffer from cognitive impairment.



Great news for us all!