Flavanols–bioactive substances found in cacao beans–might help you remember where you put your keys when you hit your 50s or 60s.
Age-related memory decline may be caused by changes in a specific part of the brain (the dentate gyrus), and diet may help to counter those changes, according to a study published online in Nature Neuroscience. In an experiment, 37 healthy adults ages 50 to 69 were randomly given diets either high or low in flavanols for three months. The high-flavanol group experienced improvements in the function of the dentate gyrus and performed better on a memory test than the low-flavanol volunteers.
But researchers caution that the study subjects received a specially prepared high-flavanol cocoa drink; regular cocoa is most likely stripped of many of the flavanols. You can also get flavanols in tea and fruits such as apples and grapes.