Sunday, May 4, 2014

Staying Healthy: Can Chocolate Prevent Obesity and Diabetes?

I know, just by reading that headline you must be excited. I know I am! But is it too good to be true? Or is it the legitimate, scientific reason to eat a bunch chocolate that we've all been waiting for?

In a mouse study, led by Andrew P. Neilson at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University,  the researchers found that there was a certain antioxidant in cocoa that for all intents and purposes prevented mice from gaining weight. It also significantly lowered their blood sugar levels. Even better, this isn't the only study that's out there that suggests the benefit of chocolate for your health. 

Medical News Today recently reported on a study claiming that eating 70 g of dark chocolate every day could reduce the risk of atherosclerosis, the medical term for the thickening and hardening of the arteries. Other research claims that hot chocolate could be useful in preventing memory decline in old age. The paper concludes by finding: 

"There is a strong correlation between neurovascular coupling and cognitive function, and both can be improved by regular cocoa consumption in individuals with baseline impairments. Better neurovascular coupling is also associated with greater white matter structural integrity."

Yum. And healthy? It seems so, in moderation at least.

What is it about chocolate that contributes to weight stability and helps prevent diabetes, and how can we maximise that effect? The data from the study at first suggested it is the flavanols that chocolate contains that help provide this benefit. However, study participants then consumed both dark chocolate and regular chocolate with added flavanols and both displayed the same effects. This may suggest that another ingredient or bodily reaction to the chocolate is helping cause these effects.

In any case, I doubt that many of you need an excuse to eat chocolate, but here's as good of one as any. Best to stick to moderation though, these benefits were shown in human subjects with a consumption of 70g of chocolate per day.

Other articles in our Staying Healthy series:

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