New research from Harvard shows that drinking hot chocolate may increase cognitive function in elderly people.  The study had 60 elderly people drinking 2 cups of hot chocolate per day for one month.  At the beginning and end of the experiement, the test subjects were tested for memory and thinking skills, as well as measures of brain blood flow.  The results indicated that people with compromised blood flow and white matter damage prior to drinking the hot chocolate had an 8% increase in blood flow in the brain after drinking the required hot chocolate for one month.  The also significantly decreased the amount of time spent on a memory test.  Researchers disagree, however, on what component of cocoa makes this difference.  It may be the flavanolas, the caffeine, or the theobromine, or a combination of the three, that improves neurovascular functioning.  Some researchers even hesitate to encourage people to immediately increase consumption of chocolate without waiting for further studies.  The sugar, fat and calories are draw backs and one reason not to go overboard with trying to consume more chocolate to improve brain function.  Even so, a little bit of chocolate every day is good for the soul, regardless of its other potentially significant physical health benefits.

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