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Title: Cocoa flavanols and their effects on cognitive function and risk factors for Alzheimer's Disease in an older adult population
Author: Saunders, Caroline Jane
ISNI:       0000 0004 2743 0131
Awarding Body: University of Reading
Current Institution: University of Reading
Date of Award: 2012
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Epidemiological evidence suggests that dietary flavonoid intake is associated with a reduced risk of chronic disease including cardiovascular disease (CVD), cancer and neurodegeneration. Numerous dietary intervention studies have shown that flavonoids are able to mediate risk factors common to both CVD and neurodegenerative disease and emerging evidence suggests that flavonoids also have the ability to improve age related deficits in learning and memory. The major objective of this Thesis was to investigate, whether short term and moderate term flavanol supplementation could improve cognitive function in a healthy older adult population using a randomised placebo controlled cross over in design human intervention study. We show that, 2 hours after consumption and compared to a control, a high flavanol cocoa drink induced an improvement in executive function and episodic memory, two major taxonomies of cognitive function where deficits occur in normal ageing. The cognitive improvements were also paralleled by a reduction in diastolic blood pressure and an attenuation of a rise in systolic blood pressure. Furthermore in the same population we also show that after 12 weeks of high flavanol supplementation there was an improvement in two components of executive function in individuals in the lowest tertile of habitual flavanol intake. Finally we investigated whether the high flavanol intervention could preferentially benefit those individuals who were carriers of the E4 version of the apolipoprotein E gene, and who were therefore at an increased risk of experiencing cognitive decline and developing Alzheimer's disease. Here we found that the flavanol intervention improved episodic memory to a greater degree in E4 carriers compared to that observed in their E3 counterparts. Collectively these results suggest that flavanol-rich foods may improve cognitive function in healthy older individuals and in those with an increased risk of cognitive decline and AD
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available