There is good evidence that cocoa flavonoids can acutely improve cognitive function in humans, possibly via mechanisms such as increased cerebral blood flow. To date, much of the evidence is based on measures of executive function with extracts and cocoa-based interventions with a high flavonoid content. The aim of the present study was to explore whether benefits to episodic verbal memory and mood are observed two hours post consumption of a commercially available dark chocolate (DC) bar relative to a 35 g white chocolate bar (WC). Ninety-eight healthy young adults (n = 57 females) aged 18-24 years consumed either a 35 g DC bar or a calorie-matched low flavonoid WC bar. Verbal episodic memory and mood were assessed pre consumption and 2 h post consumption. An ANOVA analysis showed that the DC was associated with better verbal memory performance for several outcome measures of the Rey Auditory Verbal Learning Test relative to the WC, however, there were no effects on mood. These findings lend support to the notion that everyday available portions of dark chocolate can confer benefits to the brain in healthy consumers.
Keywords: cocoa; cognition; cognitive function; episodic memory; flavonoids; memory; polyphenols.