“Memory and your ability to focus are directly tied to healthy blood flow to our brains. The science is clear,” says Nobel Prize Laureate Dr. Ferid Maurad, “our brains use roughly 20% of our body’s blood supply to power key functions like memory. The better the blood flow, the better your brain health.”
Several clinical studies show that consuming foods rich in flavanols improves cognitive performance. Recent research reinforces that these benefits are, at least in part, due to improved blood flow.
Researchers at the University of Birmingham, U.K., gave cocoa flavanols to 18 healthy adults in two separate trials. Two hours after having the cocoa drink people in the high flavanol group (~700mg) showed significantly improved cerebral blood flow compared with the low flavanol group (4mg). They also scored higher on challenging cognitive tests, solving problems 11% quicker.
“Our results showed a clear benefit for participants taking the flavanol-enriched drink—but only when the task became sufficiently complicated,” said Catarina Rendeiro, the lead investigator. “We can link this with our study results showing improved blood oxygenation—if you’re being challenged more, your brain needs improved blood oxygen levels to manage that challenge. It suggests that flavanols might be particularly beneficial during cognitively demanding tasks.”