Helping Your Memory

By Charlyn Fargo

May 16, 2014 5 min read

That second cup of coffee just may help your memory. The latest study by Johns Hopkins researchers finds that caffeine's effect on long-term memory retention is positive.

While it was a small study — 160 subjects who weren't regular coffee drinkers given caffeine — the study found that the extra caffeine helped with memorization. Subjects studied images of objects and received either 200 mg of caffeine or a placebo. Salivary samples were collected at baseline and one hour, three hours and 24 hours after administration. Researchers found those who received caffeine had a significant higher amount of caffeine metabolites at one and three hours compared with participants who received the placebo. But by 24 hours, saliva concentrations had nearly returned to baseline.

After 24 hours, researchers tested the subject's recognition performance by showing participants some of the same images as the previous day. They found that caffeine enhanced performance 24 hours after drinking caffeine, which was specific to consolidation of long-term memory and not retrieval.

The study also looked at the optimal caffeine dose. After testing with 100 mg, 200 mg, 300 mg and placebo, researchers found that 200 mg of caffeine achieved the optimal effects on consolidation memory.

Researches aren't sure if similar results would occur with those who regularly consume caffeine. More research is needed on that.

Information courtesy of Johns Hopkins University.

Q and A

Q: Is homemade hummus dip much healthier than the pre-made versions available in the grocery store?

A: Many packaged hummus brands are pretty healthy, but making it at home allows you to control the sodium, calories and nutrients. It means you can also play with the taste. Hummus can be a great choice as a dip for vegetables, a filling in sandwiches and an ingredient in a variety of Middle Eastern-type dishes. The basic ingredients are chickpeas, tahini (sesame seed paste), olive oil, garlic and lemon juice. A two-tablespoon serving of hummus typically contains 45 to 70 calories, depending on the proportion of ingredients. If you prefer to keep calories lower, you can use lower-calorie ingredients like red pepper or other vegetables to dilute the dip; more olive oil and tahini will mean higher calories. Two tablespoons also usually contain two to four grams of fat from healthy sources such as olive oil and tahini, one to five grams of protein (depending on the amount of beans) and 0.5 to 4 grams of dietary fiber. Commercial varieties vary in the amount of sodium, ranging from 100 milligrams to well over twice that amount. If you want to make low-sodium hummus, use beans canned with no added salt or cooked from dried beans and don't add much or any salt. For more protein, choose a recipe that includes proportionately more beans compared to oil and tahini.

Information courtesy of the American Institute for Cancer Research.


Make chicken a summer hit with this recipe for Peach-Glazed Chicken, from Cooking Light magazine.

Peach-Glazed Chicken

4 (6-ounce) skinless, boneless chicken halves

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon pepper

1/2 cup unsalted chicken stock

1 tablespoon white wine vinegar

1/4 cup peach preserves

2 teaspoons whole-grain mustard

Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add 1 tablespoon oil to pan; swirl. Sprinkle chicken with 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper; cook 5 minutes on each side or until done. Remove chicken from pan and keep warm. Add chicken stock to pan; cook 2 minutes, scraping pan to loosen browned bits. Stir in 1 tablespoons vinegar, peach preserves and mustard; cook 1 minute. Spoon glaze over chicken. Serves four.

Per serving: 300 calories, 40 g protein, 30 g carbohydrate, 11 g fat, 400 mg sodiu Per serving: 100 calories, 70 g carbohydrates, 2 g fat.

Charlyn Fargo is a registered dietitian at Hy-Vee in Springfield, Ill. For comments or questions, contact her at [email protected] or follow her on Twitter @Nutrition Rd. To find out more about Charlyn Fargo and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at

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