Page last updated: Wednesday, March 18, 2009
Chocolate, wine and tea can boost brain power
A study which examined the effects of eating chocolate and drinking wine and tea on the memory discovered that wine has the most pronounced effect in boosting people’s memory, followed by chocolate and tea. Also, those who regularly consume all three in modest amounts were found to perform best when asked to carry out a series of brain tests.

The study also discovered that the positive effects levelled out after just half a glass of wine and only four squares of chocolate.

The researchers from Oxford University’s Department of Physiology, Anatomy and Genetics, examined the effect of the three foodstuffs on cognitive performance among elderly people.

Chocolate, wine and tea are thought to improve cognitive ability because they all contain micronutrients called flavonoids, which research has suggested can lower risks of dementia. The study findings appear to support the theory.

Working with colleagues from the Universities of Oslo and Bergen in Norway, the team studied how chocolate, wine, and tea affected 2,031 people aged between 70 and 74.

The participants filled in questionnaires about their diets and then carried out a series of cognitive tests. Those who regularly drank moderate quantities of wine scored better in all six tests than those who abstain. Chocolate eaters also had “significantly” better results in the tests than non-consumers, while tea drinkers achieved better scores in four of the tests.

Professor David Smith explained, however, that brain power was only boosted by the three foodstuffs when consumed in small amounts.

He said: “What we have shown is that foods rich in flavonoids can improve the function of the brain....Depending on how much they had consumed they got better results, although it did plateau with four squares of dark chocolate a day - about 10g... about half a glass a day for wine and with tea it went up to about four or five cups....The exciting thing was that people who consumed all three did even better and had least likelihood of being cognitively impaired... These doses could certainly help, that’s the implication of this study, but no more than the amounts described.”

The team stressed that while moderate alcohol consumption is associated with better cognitive function and reduced risk of Alzheimer’s disease and dementia, heavy alcohol intake could be a cause of dementia and other health problems.

Source: Journal of Nutrition, doi:10.3945/jn.108.095182 Vol. 139, No. 1, 120-127, January 2009 J. Nutr. First published December 3, 2008; doi:10.3945/jn.108.095182

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