A polyphenol-rich cocoa extract called Lavado may reduce nerve damage in Alzheimer’s patients before they develop symptoms, according to research in mice.
The study due for publication in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease (JAD) by School of Medicine at Mount Sinai found that the extract prevented protein β-amyloid- (Ab) from forming sticky clumps in the brain, which damage nerve cells in Alzheimer’s patients.
Lavado cocoa is primarily composed of polyphenols and is previously been linked to preventing neurodegenerative diseases.
Preventing cognitive decline
“Our data suggest that Lavado cocoa extract prevents the abnormal formation of Aβ into clumped oligomeric structures, to prevent synaptic insult and eventually cognitive decline,” said researcher Giulio Maria Pasinetti, Saunders Family Chair and Professor of Neurology at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai.
“Given that cognitive decline in Alzheimer’s disease is thought to start decades before symptoms appear, we believe our results have broad implications for the prevention of Alzheimer’s disease and dementia.
The research team compared the effects of Lavado, Dutched and natural cocoa, which each contain different levels of polyphenols.
They found that Lavado cocoa –which had the highest polyphenol concentration - was the most effective reducing formation of Ab oligomers and reversing damage to synapses in mice.
Lead researcher Dr. Pasinetti said the finding shed some light on previous inconsistencies in medical literature on cocoa and cognitive function.
“Our finding of protection against synaptic deficits by Lavado cocoa extract, but not Dutched cocoa extract, strongly suggests that polyphenols are the active component that rescue synaptic transmission, since much of the polyphenol content is lost by the high alkalinity in the Dutching process.”
The researchers said that Lavado cocoa extract could be used in dietary supplements to provide a “safe, inexpensive and easily accessible “ means to prevent Alzheimer’s disease.
2011 research by Hershey found that lavado cocoa blocked carbohydrate and lipid breakdown in the gut, and could aid weight management.
Journal of Alzheimer's Disease, Volume 41/Issue 2 (June 2014),
‘Cocoa Extracts Reduce Oligomerization of Amyloid-β: Implications for Cognitive Improvement in Alzheimer's Disease,"
Authors: Jun Wang, Merina Varghese, Kenjiro Ono, Masahito Yamada, Samara Levine, Nikos Tzavaras, Bing Gong, William J. Hurst, Robert D. Blitzer and Giulio Maria Pasinetti.,