Loma Linda University research study confirms brain health benefits from eating dark chocolate

A Loma Linda University research team, led by Lee Berk, DrPH, MPH, has confirmed brain health benefits from the consumption of dark chocolate (cocoa).

The team’s initial studies have shown that absorbed cocoa flavonoids penetrate and accumulate in the brain regions associated with learning and memory. Shared properties of nerves and these cocoa flavonoids sequence the appearance of nerve-altering and protective proteins that promote nerve cell growth, increased brain function and brain communication, blood flow improvement and the formation of blood vessels in the brain and sensory systems.

Cacao or dark chocolate (70 percent cacao) is a high and major source of flavonoids, powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory components with known processes shown to be beneficial to cardiovascular health.

“We have for the first time shown that there is a possible connection of neuroelectric activities that initiate the mechanisms of cacao’s beneficial effects on brain reasoning and intellect, synchronization, memory, recall, mood and behavior,” said Berk.

Berk feels that neuroelectric activity initiation and modulatory control of acute and chronic action from cacao flavonoids on brain state will need further investigation, but also senses that it is the wave of the future for assessing effects on brain state modulation by healthy chocolate.

“We are tremendously excited about what these findings could potentially mean for brain health,” stated Berk. “Cacao can regulate various levels of sensory awareness and evenly increases power spectral density (uV2) of different electroencephalographic EEG frequencies. The most profound finding is that the EEG gamma wave band frequency associated with the brain’s highest level of mental processing, enhanced memory and recall, and physiological benefits (“binding” highest levels of nerve cell synchronization) is the frequency that is most meaningfully increased above all other brain frequencies,” Berk continued.

Berk says that this study provides unbiased evidence that (EEG) gamma wave band frequency (γBA) is started by different cacao sensory awareness tasks ranging from prior conditioned experience to acute cacao consumption, with later modulation for brain, behavioral and physiological benefits. “This may open the door for potential restorative uses of high concentration cacao (70 percent) for individuals with memory/recall or dementia and aging-related issues,” he said.

Further studies are in progress by Berk’s research team at Loma Linda University Health to investigate these questions.

A more comprehensive review of these profound study results will be presented by Berk at Neuroscience 2015, the Annual Meeting of the Society for Neuroscience (SFN). The conference is dedicated to developments in research of the brain and nervous system and the application of new scientific knowledge in the field of neuroscience in order to develop improved disease treatments and cures. Neuroscience 2015 will be held at Chicago’s McCormick Place, October 17 – 21.

Berk’s presentation is being held in Hall A, Sunday, October 18, 8:00 AM – noon.

About Loma Linda University Health

Loma Linda University Health includes Loma Linda University’s eight professional schools, Loma Linda University Medical Center’s six hospitals and more than 900 faculty physicians located in the Inland Empire of Southern California. Established in 1905, Loma Linda University Health is a global leader in education, research and clinical care. It offers over 100 academic programs and provides quality health care to 40,000 inpatients and 1.5 million outpatients each year. A Seventh-day Adventist organization, Loma Linda University Health is a faith-based health system with a mission “to continue the teaching and healing ministry of Jesus Christ.”