RSS Feed Print
Hot Cocoa May Boost Seniors' Brain Power
Posted: Tuesday, August 14, 2012 1:33 PM
Joined: 12/6/2011
Posts: 3326

From Alzheimer's Daily News:

(Source: MedPage Today) - Cocoa flavanols have shown some benefits for the heart, but they may also be good for cognitive function in older people, researchers found.

Researchers from the University of L'Aquila in Italy report study results indicating that elderly patients with mild cognitive impairment who consumed high or moderate levels of cocoa flavanols for 2 months had significant improvements on certain cognitive assessment tests.


"Although additional confirmatory studies are warranted, the findings...suggest that the regular dietary inclusion of flavanols could be one element of a dietary approach to the maintaining and improving not only cardiovascular health but also specifically brain health," they wrote.


Evidence suggests eating flavonoids, polyphenic compounds from plant-based foods, may confer cardiovascular benefits. Flavonols are a subclass of these compounds that are abundant in tea, grapes, red wine, apples, and cocoa products including chocolate.


Go to full story:

Lane Simonian
Posted: Tuesday, August 14, 2012 7:48 PM
Joined: 12/12/2011
Posts: 5179

I was pleased to see this story on cocoa this morning, in part because it dovetails perfectly with the peroxynitrite hypothesis of Alzheimer's disease. 


2003 Apr 11;140-141:125-32.

Defenses against peroxynitrite: selenocompounds and flavonoids.


Institut für Physiologische Chemie I, Heinrich-Heine-Universität Düsseldorf, Postfach 101007, D-40001, Düsseldorf, Germany.


The inflammatory mediator peroxynitrite, when generated in excess, may damage cells by oxidizing and nitrating cellular components. Defense against this reactive species may be at the level of prevention of the formation of peroxynitrite, at the level of interception, or at the level of repair of damage caused by peroxynitrite. Several selenocompounds serve this purpose and include selenoproteins such as glutathione peroxidase (GPx), selenoprotein P and thioredoxin reductase, or low-molecular-weight substances such as ebselen. Further, flavonoids, such as (-)-epicatechin, which occurs in green tea or cocoa as monomer or in the form of oligomers, can contribute to cellular defense against peroxynitrite.



Peroxynitrite mediated oxidation and nitration of proteins is behind almost evey aspect of Alzheimer's disease.  This article and the one on cocoa provide support for the dictum: anything that inhibits the formation of peroxynitrites delays the onset of Alzheimer's disease, anything that halts the production of peroxynitrites stops the progression of Alzheimer's disease, and anything that repairs part of the damage done by peroxynitrites partially reverses the disease.  Cocoa and other flavonoids appear to have the potential to at least delay the onset of Alzheimer's disease.  Whether flavonoids can reach the brain in large enough concentrations to either stop the progression of the disease or partially reverse it remains an open question.