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Open AccessArticle

Sub-Chronic Consumption of Dark Chocolate Enhances Cognitive Function and Releases Nerve Growth Factors: A Parallel-Group Randomized Trial

1
Department of Environmental Physiology, Faculty of Medicine, Shimane University, Izumo 693-8501, Japan
2
Department of Physiology, Graduate School of Medical Science, Kanazawa University, Kanazawa 920-8640, Japan
3
Department of Nutritional Physiology, Faculty of Pharmaceutical Sciences, Josai University, Sakado 350-0295, Japan
4
School of Nursing, Faculty of Medicine, Shimane University, Izumo 693-8501, Japan
5
Central Clinical Laboratory, Shimane University Hospital, Izumo 693-8501, Japan
*
Authors to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Nutrients 2019, 11(11), 2800; https://doi.org/10.3390/nu11112800
Received: 29 October 2019 / Revised: 12 November 2019 / Accepted: 14 November 2019 / Published: 16 November 2019
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Cocoa and Chocolate in Human Health)
Previous research has shown that habitual chocolate intake is related to cognitive performance and that frequent chocolate consumption is significantly associated with improved memory. However, little is known about the effects of the subchronic consumption of dark chocolate (DC) on cognitive function and neurotrophins. Eighteen healthy young subjects (both sexes; 20–31 years old) were randomly divided into two groups: a DC intake group (n = 10) and a cacao-free white chocolate (WC) intake group (n = 8). The subjects then consumed chocolate daily for 30 days. Blood samples were taken to measure plasma levels of theobromine (a methylxanthine most often present in DC), nerve growth factor (NGF), and brain-derived neurotrophic factor, and to analyze hemodynamic parameters. Cognitive function was assessed using a modified Stroop color word test and digital cancellation test. Prefrontal cerebral blood flow was measured during the tests. DC consumption increased the NGF and theobromine levels in plasma, enhancing cognitive function performance in both tests. Interestingly, the DC-mediated enhancement of cognitive function was observed three weeks after the end of chocolate intake. WC consumption did not affect NGF and theobromine levels or cognitive performance. These results suggest that DC consumption has beneficial effects on human health by enhancing cognitive function. View Full-Text
Keywords: dark chocolate; theobromine; nerve growth factor; cognitive function; subchronic effect; young-adult; Stroop color word test; digital cancellation test dark chocolate; theobromine; nerve growth factor; cognitive function; subchronic effect; young-adult; Stroop color word test; digital cancellation test
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Sumiyoshi, E.; Matsuzaki, K.; Sugimoto, N.; Tanabe, Y.; Hara, T.; Katakura, M.; Miyamoto, M.; Mishima, S.; Shido, O. Sub-Chronic Consumption of Dark Chocolate Enhances Cognitive Function and Releases Nerve Growth Factors: A Parallel-Group Randomized Trial. Nutrients 2019, 11, 2800.

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