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April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review

Chocolate may help keep brain healthy, sharp in old age, study says

By Melissa Pandika






JewishWorldReview.com |

LOS ANGELES — (MCT) Older chocoholics may have a new excuse to indulge their cravings: The dark stuff not only soothes the soul, but might also sharpen the mind.

In a study published Wednesday in the journal Neurology, researchers reported that chocolate may help improve brain health and thinking skills in the elderly. The Boston-based team found that older people who initially performed poorly on a memory and reasoning test and also had reduced blood flow to their brains showed improvement after drinking two cups of cocoa every day for a month.

The researchers had set out to test whether chocolate could increase blood flow to the brain during problem solving, boosting performance, after finding in earlier studies that consuming chocolate high in the antioxidant flavanol was associated with better brain and blood vessel functioning. They recruited 60 elderly subjects for the new study. Since they suspected that flavanol would improve the subjects' thinking skills and blood flow, they randomly assigned subjects to drink either flavanol-rich or flavanol-poor hot chocolate.



The participants drank two cups of hot chocolate every day for 30 days. Before and after the study period, they completed a memory and reasoning test, which assessed their ability to recognize patterns in a series of letters on a computer screen. Additionally, the researchers used ultrasound to indirectly measure the blood flow to subjects' brains, as well as magnetic resonance imaging, or MRI, to examine subjects' white matter — the nerve fibers that connect different parts of the brain.

People who performed poorly on the initial cognitive test — about a third of the participants — also had reduced blood flow to their brains and widespread white matter damage. Those who scored high on the test had significantly better blood flow and more intact white matter, indicating that blood flow, cognitive functioning and brain structure were linked.

At the end of the 30 days, the team found that drinking hot chocolate benefited only the subjects who had poor cognitive and neurovascular function to begin with. After the hot cocoa regimen, those individuals showed an 8 percent improvement in blood flow and a roughly 1 minute faster reaction time on the cognitive task. There was barely any improvement among those who had started out with normal blood flow and cognitive skills.

To the scientists' surprise, there weren't significant differences in the neurovascular or cognitive changes between the flavanol-rich and flavanol-poor groups — suggesting that something else in the chocolate was causing the improvements. The researchers plan to identify and test this component in future trials, said study leader Dr. Farzaneh A. Sorond, a neurologist at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston.

After identifying the substance, the researchers may even be able to produce it in pill form, said Dr. Costantino Iadecola, a neurologist at Weill Cornell Medical College in New York City, who was not involved in the study.

By showing that blood flow to the brain is associated with cognitive function, the study helps explain earlier findings that people with high blood pressure and other cardiovascular conditions were prone to developing dementia. This, in turn, suggests that the cognitive functioning test and other measures used in the trial may one day serve as cheap, noninvasive methods to screen people for risk of dementia.


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Scientists have focused more on treating than on preventing age-related cognitive decline, Sorond said.

"By the time people develop these problems, it's too late to initiate the drugs we have," she said. "If we could diagnose them earlier, before they have clinical symptoms, using physiological markers maybe we could prevent the disease or lessen its impact."

The study has its limitations. The ultrasound technique the researchers used offered only an estimate of blood flow to the brain — a precise measurement would require a more invasive method. "This was an easy way to get this information, but not the most accurate way," Iadecola said.

He added that the study was small, and that it was unclear how long the chocolate's effects would last.

"Will these changes persist after a month of cocoa or go back to where they were before? Would you take the cocoa forever?" Iadecola said. "We don't know."

Although the study results may tempt some to add chocolate to their diet, Sorond noted that the participants' food intake was strictly regulated to offset the excess fat and sugar in hot chocolate. For people seeking to keep their brains healthy, she recommends an intervention already known to improve cognitive function: exercise.

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© 2013, Los Angeles Times. Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services.