Cocoa flavanols have shown some benefits for the heart, but they may also be good for cognitive function in older people, researchers found.

In a double-blind study, elderly patients with mild cognitive impairment who consumed high or moderate levels of cocoa flavanols for 2 months had significant improvements on certain cognitive assessment tests compared with those who took in only small amounts, Giovambattista Desideri, PhD, of the University of L'Aquila in Italy, and colleagues reported online in Hypertension.

Evidence suggests eating flavonoids, polyphenic compounds from plant-based foods, may confer cardiovascular benefits. Flavonols are a subclass of these compounds that are abundant in tea, grapes, red wine, apples, and cocoa products including chocolate.

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