Snow outside, a fire in the fireplace, a funny movie on screen and a cup of cocoa in your hands – this is how many families now are spending many evenings. The strongest and coolest man you know probably rolls himself into a blanket decorated with deer and snowflakes in the evening and drinks cocoa. Why not? After all, you want warmth and coziness during those long and cold winter evenings. But as a new study from the University of Birmingham shows, cocoa can not only be a delicious dessert, but also help your brain to increase the capabilities.
Of course, it all depends on other ingredients of that drink also. Sugar is not good for people and even can cause some damages of health. However, the main ingredient in this hot drink is cocoa which can improve the sharpness of your mind. The researchers asked 18 healthy men between the ages of 18 and 40 to participate in this study. Initially, the researchers measured the efficiency of their cerebral circulation using a method of hypercapnia and spectroscopy. Then all participants of this research were asked to drink cocoa and all tests were repeated. Cocoa had to be drunk twice, one drink was additionally saturated with flavanols. They also had to do tests that were supposed to highlight their mental capabilities.
At the beginning, all participants were asked to breath air with carbon dioxide that had a level of concentration 100 times higher than normal. This causes hypercapnia, an increase in the concentration of carbon dioxide in the blood. The body responds with a series of tricks that help increase the amount of oxygen in the brain, scientists have measured using spectroscopy.
Later all participants had to drink cocoa, a drink high in flavanols. It is a substance found in cocoa beans, grapes, apples, green tea, and berries that is beneficial to the cardiovascular system. The benefits of flavanols to the brain have not been described and demonstrated in detail so far, but mental possibilities are at least in part certainly related to cerebral circulation. However, the results of this study were not very surprising.
And the results were as follows. The scientists found out that cocoa enriched with flavanols helped the participants to react faster to hypercapnia. It means that the concentration of oxygen in their brains rose up one minute earlier than those who drank plain cocoa. In addition, that flavanol-flavored (in fact, it did not change the taste) drink allowed the study participants to solve tests measuring mental acuity 11% faster.
Cocoa already contains flavanols in the beans, so there is no need to add them. Also, if you do not like cocoa drink, you can choose from a variety of fruits, as a result, they are also rich in these beneficial ingredients. Flavanols help to lower blood pressure, improve heart capabilities and, apparently, increase mental performance. Therefore, this substance is especially needed for people with intestinal cardiovascular diseases.