Chocolate, wine and tea consumption could decrease dementia risk

Posted by Daniel Palmer on 7th January 2009

According to Oxford researchers working with colleagues in Norway, chocolate, wine and tea enhance cognitive performance.

The team, from Oxford’s Department of Physiology, Anatomy and Genetics and Norway, examined the relation between cognitive performance and the intake of three common foodstuffs that contain flavonoids (chocolate, wine, and tea) in 2,031 older people (aged between 70 and 74).

Participants filled in information about their habitual food intake and underwent a battery of cognitive tests. Those who consumed chocolate, wine, or tea had significantly better mean test scores and lower prevalence of poor cognitive performance than those who did not.

Fruits and beverages such as tea, red wine, cocoa, and coffee are major dietary sources of polyphenols – micronutrients found in plant-derived foods. The largest subclass of dietary polyphenols is flavonoids, and a link has previously been noted between higher flavonoid consumption and a lower risk of dementia.

The latest findings seem to support the theory, although the researchers caution that more research would be needed to prove that it was flavonoids, rather than some other aspect of the foods studied, that made the difference.

The link was most pronounced for wine.

Research such as this provides brand marketers, retailers and food manufacturers with an insight into the potential health boosting properties of the food but the researchers warned that moderation was the key, with excess consumption – of wine, particularly – potentially increasing the risk of dementia and other diseases.