DRINKING cocoa makes you smarter, researchers claim.

The beverage was found to be rich in brain-boosting flavanols.

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Researchers claim drinking cocoa makes you smarter[/caption]

In tests on volunteers, UK researchers focused on the brain’s frontal cortex, which controls decision-making.

Those who drank flavanol-enriched cocoa finished highly complex tasks much faster and more accurately.

Scans showed higher oxygen levels in these subjects’ brains, the team from Birmingham University school of sport, exercise and rehabilitation sciences found.

The study’s lead author Dr Catarina Rendeiro said: “The clear benefit of the flavanol-enriched drink only occurred as the task became sufficiently complicated.

“We can link this with our results on im­proved blood oxygenation.


The beverage was found to be rich in brain-boosting flavanols[/caption]

“If you are challenged more, your brain needs improved blood oxygen levels to manage that.

“It further suggests that flavanols might be particularly beneficial in cognitively demanding tasks.”

The study, published in Scientific Reports, invol­ved 18 healthy men aged 18 to 40.

It found enriched cocoa did not benefit those with existing high levels of brain oxygen.

Dr Rendeiro said: “This may indicate some people, who perhaps are already very fit, have little room for further improvement.”

Dr Catarina Rendeiro says drinking cocoa has a ‘clear benefit’

Flavanols, which are antioxidants and good for circulation, are present in a range of food including fruit, vegetables and tea.

Dr Rendeiro added: “By better understanding the cognitive benefits of eating these food groups, we can improve dietary guidance.”

Cocoa powder’s naturally flavanol content can be destroyed in the process of darkening it and lowering its bitterness.

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