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Flavanols in cocoa may offer benefits to the brain

A special cocoa made to retain naturally occurring compounds called flavanols may have the potential to help maintain healthy brain function and chart the course for future research that could lead to new solutions for preventing cognitive decline and dementia, according to a panel of scientists who presented new data at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS).

Several studies suggest that consumption of a special cocoa made to be rich in flavanols, a naturally occurring nutrient abundant in fresh cocoa, may improve blood vessel function. Now, scientists believe the potential blood flow benefits associated with consumption of this flavanol-rich cocoa may extend to the brain -- which could have important implications for learning and memory.

This research is impressive in that multiple laboratories are coming to the same conclusion about this flavanol-rich cocoa, and the findings give us completely new insights into how this flavanol-rich cocoa may impact health in a variety of ways not previously known, said symposium organizer Harold H. Schmitz, Ph.D., chief science officer at Mars, Incorporated, which helped sponsor todays symposium and has supported research on cocoa flavanols for more than 15 years. The findings raise the possibility that products utilizing this cocoa could be developed to help maintain healthy brain function throughout several life stages. More research examining the potential of this cocoa in this important area of public health need is clearly warranted.

During the session entitled The Neurobiology of Chocolate: A Mind-Altering Experience?, a panel of scientists presented evidence from several recent studies that demonstrated the enhanced brain blood flow after study participants consumed a specially formulated flavanol-rich cocoa beverage that was supplied by Mars, Incorporated. One study, conducted by Ian A. Macdonald, PhD, from the University of Nottingham Medical School
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Contact: Lori Fromm
lfromm@webershandwick.com
312-988-2436
Weber Shandwick Worldwide
18-Feb-2007


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