Cocoa Extracts May Delay or Prevent Alzheimer's Disease

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Nutrients in chocolate may be able to maintain brain health and prevent age-related neurocognitive disorders, such as Alzheimer’s disease.

In particular, cocoa contains high amounts of micronutrients known as polyphenols that have demonstrated to promote healthy aging of the brain. Polyphenols have already been implicated in helping to reduce the risk of heart disease and having antioxidant properties.

In the past, Giulio Maria Pasinetti, MD, PhD, of the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York City, and colleagues, have conducted studies that suggest that cocoa extracts may prevent or delay Alzhimeer’s disease in animal models by inhibiting the growth of toxic beta-amyloid and tau proteins.

In a new paper published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease, Pasinetti calls out the need for a multidisciplinary, collaborative effort among cocoa producers and researchers for the development of cocoa extract for health benefits. For example, he says that little is known about how processing may impact the biological effect of cocoa extract, including it polyphenol content.

Two of the most common processing methods for cocoa have been reported to lead to the loss of as much as 90% of the polyphenols in cocoa.

Compound in Cocoa May Improve Memory Loss
Researcher calls for collaborative effort among cocoa producers and researchers for the development of cocoa extract for health benefits.

Chocolate is not generally considered to be a healthful food. However, chocolate contains nutrients that could be used to maintain brain health and prevent age-related neurodegenerative disorders such as Alzheimer's disease, according to a recent review paper published in the Journal of Alzheimer's Disease.

Polyphenols are the micronutrients in question, and these are found in large quantities in cocoa extracts.

Research has suggested that chocolate and cocoa could reduce the risk of heart disease. In particular, polyphenols known as flavanols have been demonstrated to have antioxidant effects that reduce cell damage caused by heart disease, while also having blood thinning properties.

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