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Surprisingly, chocolate may help prevent obesity and diabetes

Harold Mandel's picture
Delicious chocolate

There has been a great deal of conjecture over the years about the health benefits of chocolate. With it's delicious taste chocolate has an addicting like quality for a lot of people. Good news is that something that tastes this good really may be good for your health in many ways. Recent research shows that chocolate may actually help prevent obesity and diabetes.

There has been an interest in the potential of cocoa flavanols to prevent obesity and type-2 diabetes, reports the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry. The qualitative and quantitative profiles of individual cocoa constituents are influenced by fermentation and processing of cocoa beans. There has been little known about how various cocoa flavanols contribute to the inhibition of obesity and type-2 diabetes. The objective of this study was to compare the impacts of long-term dietary exposure to various types of cocoa flavanols on mice. It was observed that the oligomer-rich fraction was the most effective in preventing weight gain, fat mass, impaired glucose tolerance, and insulin resistance in the mice.

There are many potential health benefits of dark chocolate, reports the American Chemical Society. Some of these potential health benefits include:

1: Improved thinking

2: Decreased appetite

3: Lowered blood pressure

Scientists are now investigating what ingredients in chocolate might help prevent obesity and type-2 diabetes. The scientists have discovered that one particular type of antioxidant in cocoa prevented laboratory mice from gaining excess weight while also lowering their blood sugar levels, as reported in the Journal of Agricultural & Food Chemistry.

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Andrew P. Neilson and colleagues have explained that cocoa, which is the basic ingredient of chocolate, is one of the most flavanol-rich foods which exists. This is good news for chocolate lovers. It has already been shown by previous research that flavanols in other foods such as grapes and tea may be helpful in fighting weight gain and type-2 diabetes. However, there are different types of flavanols, which are a type of antioxidant. Neilson’s research team decided to test various types of flavanols for health benefits.

The researchers fed groups of mice different diets, which included high-fat and low-fat diets, and high-fat diets which were supplemented with different types of flavanols. The scientists discovered adding one particular set of these compounds, which are known as oligomeric procyanidins (PCs), to the food, made the most significant difference in keeping the mice’s weight down if they were being fed high-fat diets. The oligomeric procyanidins also improved glucose tolerance, which may help to prevent type-2 diabetes. The researchers said, “Oligomeric PCs appear to possess the greatest antiobesity and antidiabetic bioactivities of the flavanols in cocoa, particularly at the low doses employed for the present study.”

There has also been a lot of press coverage in recent years that the flavanoids in chocolate may help protect your cardiovascular system, reports the Cleveland Clinic. In addition to having antioxidant qualities, research shows that flavanols in chocolate have other potential positive influences on vascular health, including:

1: Lowering blood pressure

2: Improving blood flow to the brain and heart

3: Making blood platelets less sticky and able to clot

There have been concerns that the more chocolate is processed the more flavanols are lost. Most commercial chocolates on the market are highly processed. It has been said that dark chocolate contains the highest levels of flavanols. Research indicates that, depending on how the dark chocolate was processed, this may not always be true. However, most major chocolate manufacturers are looking for ways to maintain high levels of flavanols in their processed chocolates.

I have observed a great deal of interest in the health benefits of chocolate. Keeping in mind the problems associated with consuming too much sugar and the associated high calories, it would therefore be advisable to suggest that in moderation chocolate may be good for your health. Sugarless varieties of chocolate are an option, particularly for people suffering from diabetes.