Chocolate May Help Prevent Weight Gain, Diabetes
Wanna lose weight? Eat more chocolate!
A new study has shown that an antioxidant in cocoa, the main ingredient in chocolate, prevented mice from gaining weight and even lowered their blood sugar levels, according to Medical News Today. The research was conducted by the Department of Food Science and Technology at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University.
The reason chocolate may have these health benefits is because of the flavanols it contains, a type of antioxidant. But, according to the latest study, not all flavanols are the same. Cocoa actually has several different types that may provide different benefits. In this study, the scientists sought to determine exactly which flavanol may be responsible for preventing weight gain and lowering blood glucose levels.
To find out, the researchers assigned some lucky lab mice to one of six different diets for 12 weeks.
These consisted of high- and low-fat diets, and high-fat diets supplemented with either monomeric, oligomeric or polymeric procyandins (PCs) - types of flavanols. Mice were given 25 milligrams of these flavanols each day for every kilogram of their body weight.
At the end of the study, the Virginia Tech researchers determined that a high-fat diet supplemented with oligomeric PCs was the most effective for maintaining the weight of the mice and improving glucose tolerance - a factor that could help prevent type 2 diabetes. (Yes, you read that right - a high-fat diet.)
"Oligomeric PCs appear to possess the greatest anti-obesity and antidiabetic bioactivities of the flavanols in cocoa, particularly at the low doses employed for the present study," the scientists said "Additional studies of prolonged feeding of flavanol fractions in vivo are needed to further identify the fractions with the highest bioactivities and, therefore, the greatest potential for translation to human clinical applications at reasonable doses."
(More than a third of U.S. adults are obese and are therefore at higher risk of type 2 diabetes.)
The results were published in The Journal of Agricultural Food and Chemistry.
The investigators point out that the doses of flavanols used in this study are significantly lower than doses used in past research, which makes them feasible to be translated into flavanol levels for human consumption that could have clinical benefits.
"Therefore, our data suggest that moderate doses of cocoa flavanols or cocoa powder have the potential to be more effective in human clinical trials than previously thought," they said.
We eagerly look forward to the day our doc writes us an Rx for a pound of See's!
Get the Squid Ink'd Newsletter
Sign up for our weekly food newsletter, which features top local food news and events, plus interviews with chefs and restaurant owners, dining tips and a link to our print review.