Cocoa (quality) improves brain function

Cocoa (quality) improves brain function

A scientific study has proven that the flavanols in pure cocoa, little processed and without additives, increase the flow of oxygen-laden blood to the brain and promote its functioning.

Cocoa (quality) improves brain function

Previous studies had shown that foods rich in flavonoids, such as cocoa, have anti-inflammatory effects and improve the condition of blood vessels, thus preventing cardiovascular problems. It has now been discovered that cocoa flavonoids can increase cognitive performance. The study has been published in the journal Scientific Reports.

Three researchers – Catarina Rendeiro, a scientist at the University of Birmingham, and University of Illinois professors of psychology Monica Fabiani and Gabriele Gratton – set out to determine whether flavanols – a subgroup of flavonoids – in cocoa can affect the brain and its cognitive functions. They discovered that it is.


Eighteen healthy nonsmokers were chosen for the study and divided into two groups. Members of one group received cocoa rich in flavanol, while those of the other received highly processed cocoa with a very low flavanol content.

The participants in both groups were subjected to a test to check the arrival of oxygen to their brain. This test consisted of inhaling air with a carbon dioxide content of 5% two hours after consuming the cocoa. Normal air has a carbon dioxide content of only 0.04%, so the air inhaled in the study contained more than 100 times. This carbon dioxide-rich air is administered in studies when it is desired to check the status and function of the blood vessels in the brain.

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If a large amount of carbon dioxide is inhaled, the body normally reacts with increased blood flow to the brain, so that the gray cells still receive enough oxygen, and at the same time, excess carbon dioxide can be removed quickly.

With the help of near-infrared spectroscopy, corresponding changes in blood flow and also oxygen supply in the brain can be measured, so that it can be seen how well it can defend itself against excess carbon dioxide. The researchers were particularly interested in changes in the frontal cortex that is, in the region of the brain particularly important for planning, controlling one’s behavior and making decisions.


At the same time, the participants were faced with tasks with which their cognitive abilities could be assessed. The results indicated that participants who had consumed higher quality cocoa, rich in flavanols, enjoyed faster blood circulation and three times more oxygen to the brain than participants who consumed bad cocoa.

In addition, the majority of consumers of flavanol-rich cocoa also performed better on the cognitive test. They solved difficult tasks in an 11 percent shorter period of time.

The study confirms the properties of quality pure cocoa. The most recommended is the so-called raw or raw cocoa in whose production process does not exceed 41 ºC. In addition, it does not mix with sugars, refined fats, milk or other ingredients or additives. This cocoa is the richest in flavanols and the best for your brain.


  • Obesity and diabetes: improve insulin resistance and glucose metabolism. It also increases thermogenesis, that is, the generation of heat from body fat.
  • Blood pressure: flavonoids dilate the arterial walls and keep them in good condition, which reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease.
  • Brain: its flavanols exert a neuroprotective role, as they improve memory functions and learning capacity. They have been shown to have beneficial effects in the prevention of Alzheimer’s.
  • Healthy skin: increases the elasticity and hydration of the skin.


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