"The groundwork of all happiness is health." - Leigh Hunt

Study: Flavanols can improve memory in some people

May 30, 2023 – A recent study adds to the growing body of evidence that consuming certain nutrients may help the brain ward off the consequences of aging. This latest clue from researchers at Columbia and Harvard Universities shows that older people on a weight loss program low in flavanols improved their scores on memory tests by 16% after taking a flavanol pill for a 12 months.

Flavanols are a plant-based nutrient present in foods and beverages comparable to tea, red wine, blueberries, apples, pears, cherries and peanuts. Harvard HealthCocoa beans, from which cocoa is made, are particularly wealthy in flavanols.

The study involved 3,500 healthy older adults who were randomly assigned to take either the flavanol pill or a placebo pill. The researchers found that those that took the flavanol pill saw little improvement of their memory test scores overall. But after they specifically checked out individuals with poor diets, the pills had a much greater effect, leading them to conclude that flavanol deficiency is a trigger for age-related memory loss. Age-related memory loss is taken into account a standard a part of aging and involves occasional lapses in short-term memory and slowed considering.

The results were published today within the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

The researchers noted that their results are consistent with other research that claims taking flavanol supplements didn’t improve memory in individuals who already had adequate levels of the nutrient. The recent study also couldn’t go up to now as to say that flavanol deficiency causes memory problems.

“The improvement among study participants on a low-flavanol diet was significant and raises the question of whether flavanol-rich diets or supplements can be used to improve cognitive function in older adults,” said neuropsychologist and researcher Adam Brickman, PhD, of Columbia University in a opinion.

The next step to further investigate these latest findings could be to conduct a big clinical trial examining the consequences of accelerating flavanol levels in individuals with a deficiency, the researchers said.

“Age-related memory loss is thought to occur sooner or later in almost everyone, although there is a great deal of variability,” said study lead writer Scott Small, MD, of Columbia University. “If some of this variability is partly due to differences in dietary flavanol consumption, then we would see an even more dramatic improvement in memory in people who replenish their flavanol intake in their 40s and 50s.”