Your Brain Wants a Cup of Cocoa

By | September 24, 2013

If you liked hot cocoa as a child, keep drinking it as an adult for good brain health, according to this study published in the journal Neurology.

The study looked at the potential benefits of drinking two cups of cocoa per day among participants (most in their early 70s), and found that there was a positive correlation with “neurovascular coupling”, white matter integrity, and cognitive performance.

Neurovascular coupling is the intricate structure of brain capillaries, astrocytes, and neurons that support the brain’s oversized consumption of oxygen and glucose. (The human brain is about 2% of body weight, but consumes more than 20% of total oxygen and glucose.)

Study participants with deficient neurovascular coupling at the beginning of the study showed marked improvement in this measure by 30 days of cocoa consumption. This neurovascular improvement translated to better cognitive performance as well.

Important note on cocoa drink consumption: don’t overdo it with using milk, whipped cream, and other high calorie extras:

    – Cocoa powder (unsweetened), with hot water: 50 calories
    – Cocoa powder, sweetened, with whole milk: 250 calories
    – Cocoa powder, sweetened, with whipped cream: 450 calories

The brain health benefits described above come from only cocoa powder, so mix it with hot water and maybe a bit a cinnamon, for extra taste.

See also: Best Foods for Brain Health