Scientists have suspected that cocoa polyphenols, the anti-oxidant compounds found in cocoa and chocolate, might boost brain power. Now research in mice indicates that a special high-polyphenol extract of cacao called Lavado cocoa extract may be able to prevent or reverse some of the damage associated with Alzheimer’s disease. Brains afflicted with Alzheimer’s are often crowded with clumps or plaques of beta-amyloid protein. These plaques seem to interfere with message transmission across nerve synapses and trigger damaging inflammatory responses.

In special genetically engineered mice that are susceptible to the buildup of beta-amyloid protein, supplementing the diet with Lavado cocoa extract prevents plaque formation. The scientists compared the effects of Dutched, natural and Lavado extracts and found that Lavado was far more effective in protecting mouse brains. The researchers hope that a dietary supplement containing Lavado cocoa extract might some day be tested and found helpful for preventing Alzheimer’s disease in humans.

[Journal of Alzheimer's Disease, June 20, 2014]


The People’s Pharmacy perspective is always pro-cocoa. This animal research gives us reason to hope that in addition to great taste and better blood pressure control, the polyphenols in cocoa may offer us more opportunity to stay sharp as we age. Animal research on Alzheimer’s disease is frequently disappointing when the attempt is made to translate it to human beings. These researchers seem to be confident that identifying the mechanism by which the cocoa extract is working will give them a better chance of success. In the meantime, consuming high-polyphenol cocoa or chocolate (in moderation, of course) seems like a low-risk strategy with a potentially excellent reward. 

For more information about the health benefits of chocolate and cocoa, you may wish to listen to our one-hour radio show on the topic, available on CD or as an MP3.

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  1. JEMGIRL
    Reply

    Hi. I had the same ??s as Anthony, N Whitney, & Kath K. I followed the two links suggested above (the Jrnl of Alz. article and the google search). I didn’t see where the Journal article specifies how they derived or where they obtained “lavado extract” and on the google search I saw Cocoa Via and several brands of “Natural” cocoa (which was one of the 3 tried in the study that did not work as well as “Lavado”) and chocolate extract supplements with no mention of “lavado”. The closest name match I saw was “LavAza”-a hot choc. kit, which doesn’t sound like what is being discussed here. Other listings just summarize the article again. So, can anyone please tell me (or us) what “lavado extract” or “Lavado chocolate” actually is, how you know you’re getting it, and whether it is available anywhere yet-or not?

  2. chj
    Reply

    Click on their link in the middle of the article for more information on the study. People’s Pharmacy doesn’t just publish stuff like this out of thin air. They always have links to their sources.

  3. Anthony
    Reply

    What is Lavado Cocoa? Is there a particular brand available? Thank you. Anthony.

  4. amr
    Reply

    Every morning and sometimes for lunch, I put milk (made with dry milk), a Sweet ‘N’ Low and a heaping t spoon of Hershey’s Cocao in a blender. It’s yummy…but since I’m lactose intolerant, I have to use a “gas pill”. I’m 84, not brilliant but okay. I write novels. Been doing both for years.

  5. KathK
    Reply

    How do I know which Cocoa is Lavado?

  6. N. whitney
    Reply

    What is Lavado cocoa? How do you tell what kind you are getting by reading a label?

  7. Jesse
    Reply

    I just read the journal article on cocoa and mice. I see Hershey provided the cocoa for the “study.”
    What would you bet Hershey cocoa is Dutch processed? Most cocoa sold in this country is Dutch processed and I won’t use it.

  8. Jesse
    Reply

    What “scientists?” And who paid for the “study?” The cocoa growers association?
    Shame on you!

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