Blog Cocoa Extract Shows Cognitive Boost in Older Adults with Lower Diet Quality

Cocoa Extract Shows Cognitive Boost in Older Adults with Lower Diet Quality

A recent randomized clinical trial revealed that older adults who took daily cocoa extract supplements experienced modest improvements in cognitive function over a two-year period (Source: Healthline).

Published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, the study conducted by researchers from Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School sheds light on potential benefits, but with a significant caveat.

The cognitive enhancements were observed exclusively in participants with lower diet quality at the study’s commencement. Those with healthy dietary patterns did not show a parallel cognitive boost.

Chirag Vyas, MBBS, from the Department of Psychiatry at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, cautiously discussed the findings, stating that it’s premature to recommend cocoa extract supplements for enhancing cognitive function.

The study, part of the larger Cocoa Supplement and Multivitamin Outcomes Study (COSMOS), involved 573 older individuals randomly assigned to daily cocoa extract or a placebo.

Participants in the cocoa extract group consumed two capsules daily, providing 500 milligrams of cocoa flavanols, including 80 milligrams of epicatechin—a type of flavanol found in various plant-based sources like cocoa, tea, grapes, apples, and berries.

While overall cognition remained unaffected for the entire group, individuals with lower diet quality displayed notable improvements in overall cognition and executive function when taking cocoa supplements.

Executive function encompasses cognitive skills crucial for self-control and behavioral management.

The study underscores the importance of considering diet and nutritional status in future trials exploring the impact of cocoa extract supplements on cognition.

Vyas emphasized the need for more diverse population studies and specific focus on individuals with lower diet quality to validate these findings.

Dr. Thomas Holland, a physician scientist at RUSH University in Chicago, finds the study intriguing for its focus on specific flavanols, contrasting it with broader dietary studies.

Despite these promising results, Vyas cautioned against recommending daily cocoa extract supplementation for preserving cognitive function until further research establishes its efficacy across diverse populations and dietary contexts.

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