A small study published in the journal Nature Neuroscience has found that natural memory loss occurring with normal aging (a.k.a. “senior moments”) was significantly improved in subjects ages 50-69 who drank a high dose of antioxidants called cocoa flavanols. At the end of the test period, the participants performed more like 30-40 year olds on psychological pattern recognition tests and they did 25 percent better than those on a low dose of the cocoa cocktail.
But don’t rush out to the market to load up on Hershey bars.
“You’d have to eat 25 chocolate bars a day to get 900 milligrams of flavanols, the amount we used, which is a bad idea,” said Scott Small, a professor of neurology at Columbia University’s College of Physicians and Surgeons and lead author of the study.
While this is good news for age related memory decline, the results do not necessarily help with Alzheimer’s disease, which affects a different area of the brain.
“My guess is that for Alzheimer’s, which is a terribly grinding disorder that involves death of brain cells, diet might not be enough,” Smith told Scientific American.