A new study suggests that adding 500 milligrams of flavanols per day to your diet may slow down and potentially improve age-related mental decline. Flavanols are antioxidant compounds found in foods like green tea, apples, berries, and cocoa. Age-related mental decline affects cognitive abilities such as thinking speed, attention span, and word-finding, but it is distinct from Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias. The study found that older adults with lower levels of flavanols in their diet performed worse in tests of hippocampal memory function. However, when given daily flavanol supplements derived from cocoa, their performance in an age-related word-recall test improved. It’s worth noting that the impact on memory was modest and limited to those with a lower-quality diet initially.

Flavanols, also known as flavan-3-ols, are natural compounds that contribute to the vibrant colors of fruits and vegetables. They are bioactive compounds that can affect processes within the body. The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics recommends a daily intake of 400 to 600 milligrams of flavanols, as they have been linked to a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease and diabetes. It’s important to consume a variety of flavanol-rich foods rather than relying solely on chocolate, as chocolate does not contain significant amounts of flavonoids. The study used an optimized extraction process to obtain high levels of flavonoids from dark cocoa. Researchers emphasize that a diverse diet incorporating different flavanol-containing foods is the best way to meet the recommended intake of 500 milligrams per day. While the study’s findings show promise, further research is needed to fully understand the effects of flavanols on age-related mental decline.