Neurocognitive Effects of Cocoa and Red-Berries Consumption in Healthy Adults

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Abstract

In recent decades, the elderly population has increased at higher rates than any other population group, resulting in an increase in age-related diseases such as neurodegenerative and cognitive impairment. To address this global health problem, it is necessary to search for new dietary strategies that can prevent the main neurocognitive problems associated with the ageing process. Therefore, the aim of the present study was to analyze the effect of cocoa flavanols and red berry anthocyanins on brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) and nerve growth factor receptor (NGF-R) and to stablish the possible improvement in cognitive performance by using a battery of neurocognitive tests that included the Verbal Learning Test Spain-Complutense, the Spatial Recall Test 10/36 BRB-N, the Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scale III and IV, the STROOP Task and the Tower of London Test. A randomized, double-blind, parallel-group study was performed in 60 healthy volunteers between 50 and 75 years old who consumed a cocoa powder, a red berries mixture or a combination of both for 12 weeks. After the intervention, we observed a reduction in the time needed to start (p = 0.031) and finish (p = 0.018) the neurocognitive test known as the Tower of London in all groups, but the decrease in time to finish the task was more pronounced in the intervention with the combination of cocoa-red berries group. We failed to show any significant difference in BDNF and NGF-R sera levels. However we found a negative correlation between BDNF and the number of movements required to finish the TOL in women (p = 0.044). In conclusion, our study showed an improvement in executive function, without any change in neurotrofin levels, for all intervention arms. View Full-Text



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