Here's some medicine that will go down easy: A new study suggests that drinking hot cocoa can help seniors sharpen their memories, at least if their brains already suffer some impairment. Researchers had a group of 60 seniors drink two cups of hot cocoa a day, with half getting cups rich in the antioxidant flavanol, and the other half getting flavanol-poor hot cocoa, Medical News Today reports. Evidence suggests flavanol improves heart circulation and heart health.
Researchers were wondering if the flavanol could also improve neurovascular coupling, the relationship between brain activity and blood flow that may play a role in diseases such as Alzheimer's. The flavanol turned out to have no effect. But researchers found that the 18 participants who had started with neurovascular coupling impairments improved significantly in both blood flow and memory tests. "There is a strong correlation between neurovascular coupling and cognitive function," the researchers wrote, "and both can be improved by regular cocoa consumption."