Chocolate could prevent obesity and diabetes, study suggests
At a mouse study led at the Department of Food Science and Technology at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, researchers found that an antioxidant present in cocoa (which is the main ingredient in chocolate) prevented weight gain in mice and resulted in lower blood sugar levels.
There have been many studies done before this one which stipulate that chocolate, wine and berries protect against type 2 diabetes. Others suggest that teens that eat a lot of chocolate tend to be slimmer. Flavanols, the antioxidant present in cocoa and thus chocolate, is the reason behind the health benefits of eating chocolate.
Cocoa however has many types of flavanols and not all are the same or have the same health benefits. Thus this latest research is trying to distinguish exactly which flavanol is responsible for preventing weight gain and lowering blood sugar levels. To test this, 6 types of diets were formulated and then assigned to mice for a period of 12 weeks. These diets were high and low fat diets and high fat diets supplemented with monomeric, oligomeric or polymeric procyandins (PCs) which are types of flavanols.
The researchers found that high fat diet supplemented with oligomeric PCs were the most effective in preventing weight gain and lowering blood sugar levels. Moderate doses of cocoa powder potentially could be more effective during human trials, a fact which was previously thought non-effective.
Previous studies have claimed that eating 70 g of dark chocolate a day could reduce the thickening and hardening of the arteries. However, this study did not attribute this benefit to the presence of flavanol in chocolate. Another research attributes hot chocolate to the prevention of memory decline. And yet again, it does not say that this is as a result of flavanols.
Whether it is this antioxidant flavanol which is the reason for the health benefits associated with chocolate is unclear. Having stated that; eating chocolate definitely seems to have more health benefits than previously thought.