Cocoa Promising for Alzheimer's Prevention, But Collaboration Needed

Dietary cocoa has shown potential for reducing age-related cognitive dysfunction and promoting health brain aging, but research in the Journal of Alzheimer's Disease argues that multidisciplinary collaborative efforts between cocoa producers, wholesalers, and the biomedical community are necessary to bolster understanding of the beneficial roles of cocoa polyphenols. 

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Animal models have suggested that certain cocoa extract preparations could prevent or delay Alzheimer's disease due to inhibition of the generation and promotion of clearance of toxic proteins such as β-amyloid (Aβ) and abnormal tau aggregates through mechanisms mediated by polyphenols. Cocoa polyphenols may prevent abnormal accumulation of toxic protein aggregates in the brain to prevent the loss of synapses that are critical for functional connection among neurons. 

Giulio Maria Pasinetti, MD, PhD, from the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, and colleagues emphasize that while cocoa polyphenols could help to prevent synapse loss to protect against the onset and progression of Alzheimer's disease, initiatives are necessary to succeed in the development of cocoa extract for health benefits. Certain procedures used in cocoa processing can significantly influence its polyphenol content and biological activity; it is estimated that two of the most common processing techniques for typically consumed chocolate may lead to a loss of as much as 90% of the polyphenols in cocoa. New breeds of cocoa that are engineered to be fruitful, more resistant to disease, and more flavorful, are currently under investigation by researchers to combat supply issues relating to cocoa worldwide and consistency of cocoa used in studies. 

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