A new study suggests a daily flavanol (a kind of antioxidant found in certain fruits, veggies, tea, and cocoa) supplement might help stall or even reverse age-related memory loss.

Researchers randomly assigned more than 3,500 older adults to take either a daily flavanol supplement or a placebo pill for three years. The supplement contained 500 milligrams (mg) of flavanols extracted from cocoa, which was within the 400 to 600 mg range recommended by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics as part of a healthy diet.

Participants completed a series of short-term memory tests designed to measure subtle changes in skills like word recall that tend to erode with advanced age. They also completed diet surveys that assessed the overall healthiness of foods they consumed and how often they ate foods known to be rich in flavanols.

For the people who had the lowest-quality diets and consumed the fewest flavanol-rich foods, supplements made a significant difference. In memory test, their scores were 16 percent higher after one year of taking flavanol supplements than they were at the start of the study.

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