Cerebral blood flow response to flavanol-rich cocoa in healthy elderly humans.

Apr 2008

Neuropsychiatric Disease and Treatment

Sorond FA1, Lipsitz LA, Hollenberg NK, Fisher ND



Cerebral ischemia is a common, morbid condition accompanied by cognitive decline. Recent reports on the vascular health benefits of flavanol-containing foods signify a promising approach to the treatment of cerebral ischemia. Our study was designed to investigate the effects of flavanol-rich cocoa (FRC) consumption on cerebral blood flow in older healthy volunteers.


We used transcranial Doppler (TCD) ultrasound to measure mean blood flow velocity (MFV) in the middle cerebral artery (MCA) in thirty-four healthy elderly volunteers (72 +/- 6 years) in response to the regular intake of FRC or flavanol-poor cocoa (FPC).


In response to two weeks of FRC intake, MFV increased by 8% +/- 4% at one week (p = 0.01) and 10% +/- 4% (p = 0.04) at two weeks. In response to one week of cocoa, significantly more subjects in the FRC as compared with the FPC group had an increase in their MFV (p < 0.05).


In summary, we show that dietary intake of FRC is associated with a significant increase in cerebral blood flow velocity in the MCA as measured by TCD. Our data suggest a promising role for regular cocoa flavanol’s consumption in the treatment of cerebrovascular ischemic syndromes, including dementias and stroke.

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