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University of L’Aquila

Mars, Incorporated partnered with a group of researchers from Italy’s University of L’Aquila to conduct a study that adds to the growing body of evidence demonstrating that cognitive function is improved with a diet high in cocoa flavanols. The study was published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition (AJCN) in January 2015 and was the second installment in a two-part investigation of the impact of cocoa flavanols on the brain.

Partnership Outcomes

The first study, published in the Journal of Hypertension in 2012, found cognitive and cardiometabolic benefits of habitual cocoa flavanol consumption in older adults who had been diagnosed with mild cognitive impairment (MCI). Despite these findings, the question of the benefits of cocoa flavanols on cognitive function among individuals without MCI remained uncertain.

This second study, published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition (AJCN), which looked at men and women with no evidence of cognitive dysfunction, shows that even cognitively healthy individuals can benefit from the regular inclusion of cocoa flavanols in their diets. It also reinforces the results of several recent cognitive studies and sheds more light on the important role that diet plays in cognitive health. Dr. Giovambattista Desideri, lead author on the paper, said, “The results of this study are encouraging — they support the idea that diet, and specifically a diet rich in cocoa flavanols, can play an important role in maintaining cognitive health as we age.” It is not yet fully understood how cocoa flavanols bring about improvements in cognitive function, but the study’s authors suggest that the improvements in insulin resistance and blood pressure could provide insight into possible means of action for cognitive improvements already observed.

Learn More
Read more details on the study in our press release and the published paper.

Learn from Catherine Kwik Uribe, Global Scientific & Regulatory Affairs, Human Health & Nutrition Director, Mars, Inc., about details of the study in this video.