Chocolate lovers rejoice! A recent study shows that eating dark chocolate can boost brain power and counter the effects of sleep deprivation in seniors. Researchers from the University of L’Aquila in Italy found that flavanoids, a natural compound found in cocoa, have neuroprotective effects that offer significant health benefits for seniors.
Those who snacked on small amounts of dark chocolate over an extended period of time saw improvements to attention, brain processing speed, working memory, and fluency of speech – all functions that become less efficient with age. The most surprising result from the study, however, was the impact that cocoa flavanols had on seniors with insomnia.
How Does Dark Chocolate Have Health Benefits for Seniors with Insomnia?
Elderly women who ate dark chocolate after a sleepless night saw counteractive effects of tiredness rapidly after eating the flavanol enriched food. Researchers Valentina Socci and Michele Ferrara say these results are promising for those who suffer from chronic sleep deprivation. “This result suggests the potential of cocoa flavanols to protect cognition in vulnerable populations over time by improving cognitive performance.”
The study concluded that a regular intake of cocoa flavonoids could lead to better cognitive function and even decrease the risk of diseases like dementia, but consuming dark chocolate in excessive amounts is not recommended.
How Often Should Seniors Consume Chocolate?
Like many foods, there are potential risks to overindulging in snacks like dark chocolate. These risks include an overage in calorie, caffeine and sugar consumption which can be dangerous to those with dietary restrictions like diabetes.
If you’d like to introduce dark chocolate into your loved one’s diet it’s recommended to incorporate a small daily portion with a combination of well-balanced meals. Over time, the health benefits for seniors that come from cocoa flavonoids will improve cognition and provide a sweet treat too!
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