New Study Demonstrates Cognitive Benefits of Cocoa Flavanols on Complex Tasks

Great news, FlavaFans! Scientists at the University of Birmingham, U.K., and the University of Illinois found that healthy adults performed better on complex cognitive tests after consuming a single dose of high flavanol cocoa.

In fact, volunteers aged 18 to 40 who had taken a flavanol-rich drink containing about 700mg of cocoa flavanols performed the cognitively challenging tasks 11% faster than the placebo group! The study also revealed improved brain oxygenation.

The benefits of flavanols were only evident for more difficult tests, however. “Our results showed a clear benefit for the 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 also further suggests that flavanols might be particularly beneficial during cognitively demanding tasks.” 

This study, recently published in Scientific Reports, adds to the growing body of evidence showing the benefits of cocoa flavanols on brain and cardiovascular health. 

University of Birmingham lecturer in nutritional sciences Catarina Rendeiro, PhD, found that cocoa flavanols improve brain oxygenation and cognition in healthy adults