CoCoA Study Results

Cognition Study

Key Terms

Cognitive function: Mental processes, including thinking, learning, reasoning, problem solving, remembering, decision-making and attention.

Cocoa flavanols (CF): Mixture of naturally-occurring, bioactive compounds found in the cacao plant. A significant body of published research shows consumption of cocoa flavanols improves blood vessel function, which helps support brain and heart health.

Bioactive: Substance that’s not necessary to meet basic human nutritional needs, but is responsible for changes in health status; these compounds are generally considered those that promote good health.

Endothelium: Single layer of cells that lines all blood vessels. The changes in the functional capacity of the endothelium is recognized as an early indicator of the health of the cardiovascular system.

Vasodilation: Widening of blood vessels as the result of relaxed endothelium. Vasodilation allows vessels to carry more oxygen and nutrients to the peripheral and cerebral vascular systems.

Peripheral vascular system: Blood vessels in the arms, legs, hands and feet.

Cerebral vascular system: Blood vessels that carry blood to and from the brain.


Starting at about age 30, our bodies begin to age on a cellular level every moment of the day. To help live a long and healthy life, it’s vital to take good care of our bodies and brains—at every age.

Thankfully, aging is a slow process. And contrary to popular belief, aging isn’t entirely pre-ordained by our genes or even the passage of time. We have real control over how our bodies age.

The small decisions we make each day—from what we eat to how much we exercise to how we handle stress, among others—can have a powerfully positive impact through the years. In this context, there’s scientific evidence that including cocoa flavanols in our daily routine can help us look, feel and perform our best.

The Cocoa Cognition and Aging (CoCoA)  study sheds light on the impact of cocoa flavanols on cognitive functioning, with strong evidence that regular consumption of these bioactives improves specific measures of cognitive function in a relatively short period of time.


Research has consistently shown that cocoa flavanols improve vascular function, notably increasing circulating nitric oxide levels and promoting vasodilation and healthy endothelial function. This points to cocoa flavanols’ ability to support healthier arteries from head to toe which, in turn, can help to support healthy blood pressure and blood sugar levels. 

In the past few years, exciting evidence has emerged showing that the blood-flow benefits of cocoa flavanols may also extend to the brain and, as a result, improve cognitive function.


The CoCoA study was designed to test the hypothesis that the regular consumption of a cocoa-flavanol-containing beverage would improve cognitive performance in otherwise healthy adults. The study also examined the impact of flavanols on blood pressure, glucose metabolism and oxidative stress.

You can read the full study here in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, the leading scientific journal on nutrition.   


There were 90 subjects in the study, age 61 to 85 years. Criteria for participation included overall good health; subjects reported no concerns about cognitive function, had no clinically significant medical or mental health conditions like heart disease, stroke, dementia, depression or other related disorders, and had to be free of evidence of established dementia. Overall, these were healthy older adults.


Researchers gathered baseline data on subjects through a series of cognitive functioning tests including: the Mini Mental State Exam (MMSE); the Trail Making Tests (TMT A & B), which measures ability to think, reason and remember; and the Verbal Fluency Test (VFT), which measures ability to recall words.  Together these tests (TMT A & B, and VFT) measure executive cognitive function—all the thinking and information-processing we do every day.

During the study, researchers also tracked baseline blood pressure and metabolic indicators, like blood sugar and insulin, to see how flavanols might influence them.

Study subjects consumed one of three cocoa flavanol (CF) drinks twice daily. The total amount of cocoa flavanols consumed daily for eight weeks was:

high flavanol group

750mg Cocoa Flavanols/Day

Moderate Flavanol Group

400mg Cocoa Flavanols/Day

Control Group

30mg Cocoa Flavanols/Day



Significantly faster testing times.

Subjects who drank moderate and high concentrations of cocoa flavanols daily for eight weeks significantly reduced the amount of time they needed to finish the TMT A and TMT B tests. After eight weeks, it took participants in these groups 18-25% less time to complete the specific tests. In contrast, the control/low flavanol group experienced no improvement after eight weeks. 


Significantly improved word recall.

Subjects in the moderate and high flavanol consumption groups showed significantly increased ability to recall words, with the amount of improvement correlated to concentration of cocoa flavanols. Those consuming 400 mg a day saw a 13% improvement in performance, while those consuming 750 mg saw a 31% improvement. The control group experienced a slight improvement in performance (<6%), but far lower than experienced by the other groups.


Significantly improved overall cognitive functioning.

Based on an integrated measure of all cognitive tests, the study showed subjects who consumed higher concentrations of cocoa flavanols (750 mg and 400 mg daily) had better overall cognitive performance. In contrast, the low flavanol control group did not have a significant improvement in their integrated measure of cognitive performance.


Improved blood pressure and metabolic variables.

The study also showed consumption of cocoa flavanols supported healthy blood pressure, cholesterol and blood sugar levels.

Conclusions and Discussion

The CoCoA study successfully confirmed its hypothesis—and validated previous research findings—that the daily consumption of cocoa flavanols does indeed improve cognitive functioning and can do so relatively quickly (in just eight weeks).

This research builds upon the growing body of literature that supports the health benefits of cocoa flavanols.  From your blood vessels, to your heart and brain, cocoa flavanols can help to support your health—at any age.

not all cocoa is created equal

What you need to know:

·        Flavanols are very delicate, easily destroyed during conventional processing. Most popular chocolate products—cocoa powders, dark chocolate and even nibs—don’t actually contain high levels of flavanols.

·        Chocolate products typically don’t indicate or guarantee a specific concentration of flavanols per serving.

·        Chocolate contains fat, added sugar, and is calorically-dense, so moderation 


A daily serving of CocoaVia™ extract capsules is guaranteed to have 450 mg of cocoa flavanols (nearly the same level used in the CoCoA study), five calories and zero grams of fat, making CocoaVia™ a concentrated, convenient, trusted choice. CocoaVia™ is also available in several powdered flavors, ready to mix in to drinks or food.


Comparison: To get the same amount of cocoa flavanols in a 30-day supply of CocoaVia™, you’d have to eat more than 15 pounds of a leading  dark chocolate—or more than 38,000 calories and 3,840 grams of fat—with no guarantee of CF content. 


The flavanols in CocoaVia™ are one of the most highly-researched plant-based bioactives in the world. They’re backed by 20+ years of rigorous research and more than 30 clinical studies proving the efficacy of Cocoa Flavanols across a variety of health benefits, including heart, brain and total body health. Learn more at