High-flavanol diet may be good for your brain.


  • A study found foods rich in flavanol beneficial for brain function.
  • Cocoa flavanol showed positive effects on cognitive function.
  • Here are some foods you can add to your diet.

It seems surreal whenever we take a bite of our favourite chocolate and it instantly lifts up our mood. It is a known fact that cocoa present in dark chocolate has some effect on our senses, but it could actually boost our brain function is something that has come as a surprise to all of us. A new research has claimed that flavanols, especially cocoa favanol, may improve brain agility. Now, we have another reason to tuck into our favourite dessert!

The research conducted by University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign found that foods rich in flavanols had a positive effect on brain vascular function and cognitive performance in young healthy adults, likely through nitric oxide signalling.

Catarina Rendeiro, lead researcher said, “Emerging evidence also suggests that flavanol-rich diets protect against cognitive aging, but mechanisms remain elusive. In a randomised double-blind within-subject acute study in healthy young adults, we link these two lines of research by showing, for the first time, that flavanol intake leads to faster and greater brain oxygenation responses to hypercapnia, as well as higher performance only when cognitive demand is high.”

For the research, separate physiological and cognitive challenges were assigned to the participants to assess the underlying physiological actions of cocoa flavanols on cerebral and peripheral vascular and cognitive function. The brains of healthy adults recovered faster from a mild vascular challenge and performed better on complex tests if the participants consumed cocoa flavanols beforehand. 14 out of 18 participants saw these improvements after ingesting the flavanols.

The study was published in the journal ‘Scientific Reports‘.

(Also Read: High Flavanol Diet Lowers Blood Pressure, Says Study: 5 Foods For Managing BP)

brain health brain ageing

Research found flavanols beneficial for brain function. 
Photo Credit: iStock

Flavonoid is a group of small molecules present in many fruits and vegetables. Cocoa flavanol is a sub-group of flavonoids, which comes from cocoa beans.

Here are 5 high-flavanol foods you can add to your diet:

1. Chocolate

Remember, dark chocolate have more flavanol content than regular and white chocolates.

2. Grapes

Grapes, both green and black, are good sources of antioxidant-rich flavanols.

3. Apples

Apples offer so many health benefits, including brain-friendly flavonoids. You must have heard it a gazillion times already, but do have one apple ever day to stay healthy.

4. Tea

The rejuvenating drink is an essential part of our daily diet. Have it in moderation to avail its benefits and avoid its side effects.


5. Berries

All kinds of berry fruits have a good amount of flavonoids. So pick your favourite ones, or all of them, and enjoy their good taste too.

Flavanols are also known to boost immunity and help manage blood pressure. Make these foods a part of your regular diet.

(This content including advice provides generic information only. It is in no way a substitute for qualified medical opinion. Always consult a specialist or your own doctor for more information. NDTV does not claim responsibility for this information.)

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