DALLAS (NEXSTAR) — New research shows that next cup of hot cocoa could increase your mental agility. Researchers at the University of Birmingham in the U.K. found that increased consumption of flavanols allowed people to more efficiently complete cognitive tasks. Flavanols are molecules that are naturally found in fruit, vegetables, and cocoa.
The researchers gave a cocoa drink to some participants and a non-cocoa beverage to another. The study found flavanol produced a faster and greater increase in blood oxygenation levels. Researchers say this led to participants who drank the cocoa completing cognitive tasks some 11% faster than the other group.
According to a news release from the University of Birmingham, the study marks “the first time the cognitive effects of flavanols in young, healthy subjects and the link with brain blood oxygenation have been investigated.”
“By better understanding the cognitive benefits of eating these food groups, as well as the wider cardiovascular benefits, we can offer improved guidance to people about how to make the most of their dietary choices,” said lead author Dr Catarina Rendeiro.
It’s also worth noting some participants saw no benefit from consuming the flavanol-enriched drink. It’s believed those participants likely already had high blood oxygenation levels.