People in Edinburgh and the Lothians are being invited to take part in a new university study to help uncover the superfood health value of chocolate and cocoa. From now until May 2018 men and women aged 50 to 60 years of age in Edinburgh and the Lothians are being offered the chance to benefit from free expert advice on healthy lifestyles and how simple changes to dietary habits can improve their overall health.
Volunteers will be offered a free initial health check, including weight, body mass index (BMI), and blood pressure, before participating in the research. People who are eligible and complete the study will also receive advice about their current diet.
The study also involves taking part in some assessments that look at the effects of chocolate or cocoa powder. These will include a series of cognitive tests, questionnaires, as well as body composition tests.
Responding to global challenges of an increasing ageing population, scientists at Queen Margaret University (QMU), Edinburgh are keen to find out whether consuming antioxidant-rich chocolate or cocoa powder can play a role in maintaining and preserving our brain power and general health as we age.
Research in this area is already showing that antioxidant-rich food and drink may have a range of health benefits. Researchers at QMU have extensive experience of assessing the antioxidant content of a wide variety of food products. This has number of studies which have identified the nutritional and health benefits of antioxidant-rich foods such as sea buckthorn and various types of tea and fruit juices.
Along with certain fruit and vegetables and red wine, cocoa is a very concentrated and valuable source of antioxidants in the diet. Varying levels of antioxidants found in these everyday products can have a positive effect on heart health and mental function. They can also help protect the body’s cells from damage and are important in the fight against disease.
This externally funded research is part of the University’s Centre for Health, Activity and Rehabilitation (CHEAR) Research Centre. The University also offers a range of undergraduate and postgraduate courses in the fields of dietetics, nutrition, biological and food science and health.
Dr Iain F Gow, who is leading the study, said: “Current research into the role of food in the maintenance and preservation of cognitive function points to the role of polyphenols, a group of compounds present naturally in fruit and vegetables. Polyphenols are also present in other plant products such as herbs, spices, tea, red wine and chocolate.
“There is a lot of media interest around the role of chocolate in health and prevention. The purpose of this study is to continue exploring this area to try and understand if and how these antioxidants affect our cognitive abilities as we age.
“This research is an opportunity to explore how some of the everyday components of nutrition and diet might possibly exert a positive role on ageing.”
People interested in taking part in the QMU study can contact Ruth Ashaye, Centre for Health Activity and Rehabilitation at QMU, for further information, or to find out if they are eligible to participate. Email: RAshaye@qmu.ac.uk
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