A couple cooks a nutritious meal
Mars Edge

How Age-Related Memory Research Helps Us Build Better Lives Through Nutrition

Dr. Catherine Kwik-Uribe, R&D-Scientific & Regulatory Affairs Director at Mars Edge, shares how scientific advances underpin Mars Edge’s purpose to contribute to better lives through nutrition.

Scientific research – in partnership with leading academic institutions – has underpinned how we approach our purpose: building better lives through nutrition. Our recently published research with Columbia University’s Irving Medical Centre into diet quality and dietary flavanol intake is a great example of how we aim to meet that purpose.

Diet is a cornerstone of health and, as more people are living for longer, insights into which foods can help us stay healthy as we age are increasingly important. Imagine the difference that may be possible to people’s lives from new nutritional research that demonstrates the role that specific food and food components can play in helping to maintain and optimize our health into later life.   

The cognition study we published earlier this week in Nature Scientific Reports shows the potential in this area. The 20-week randomized, controlled trial showed that healthy adults who consumed a level of cocoa flavanols comparable to that in CocoaVia™ Memory+ experienced a significant improvement in episodic memory – the memories and details of the past that you can recall and use in the present. (You can read more about the trial methodology and results here).

Not only do these findings add to the growing body of evidence on the cognitive benefits of cocoa flavanols, they indicate just how rapidly this exciting area of research into bioactives and health is advancing.  

These advances aren’t only important for researchers, of course. They are relevant to everyone. 

One of my roles at Mars Edge is to help translate this research into the development of evidence-based and tailored nutrition solutions to help people maintain and improve their health. For the past two decades, Mars has used its expertise in cocoa to help unlock the potential of cocoa flavanols - the distinctive mixture of flavanols found in cocoa - calling on multiple disciplines from food analytics to processing and product development. 

Fresh cocoa beans are rich in flavanols, but conventional bean processing can often destroy them. To address this challenge, our researchers developed COCOAPRO® cocoa extract, an extract produced using Mars’s proprietary process that preserves more of the flavanol content naturally present in the cocoa bean. 

This concentrated flavanol extract enables us to produce a range of products containing a high concentration of these beneficial compounds. Today, we offer two products, CocoaVia™ and CocoaVia™ Memory+, which are cocoa extract based dietary supplements with 450 to 750 mg cocoa flavanols. These flavanol levels are proven to support heart health and improve cognitive function. 

This latest study is one of the larger trials to investigate nutrition and cognition to date. Further studies expected later this year will provide insights into how cocoa flavanols may offer important benefits to our health, particularly as we age. 

COSMOS, the Cocoa Supplement and Multivitamin Outcomes Study, aims to do just this. The dietary intervention trial, initiated by scientists at Brigham and Women’s Hospital at Harvard Medical School, will be the largest study of its kind, following 22,000 healthy older adults over a five-year intervention. The results will provide exciting new data on health, nutrition and cocoa flavanols – and are expected later this year. You can read about COSMOS here