lowered risk

Moderate consumption of dark chocolate could help lower type 2 diabetes risk

by Barbara Hewitt on May 3, 2016

Eating a small piece of dark chocolate every day may lower the risk of developing type 2 diabetes and heart disease, new research has found.

Chocolate is often regarded as a treat that should only be enjoyed from time to time due to its high fat and sugar content, but more and more studies are highlighting that in moderation it has health benefits.

Researchers point out that dark chocolate has the highest cocoa content, which means it has the highest levels of antioxidants, especially flavonoids which are molecules that can prevent some forms of cell damage.

dark-chocolate

Now this new study led by professor Saverio Stranges of the University of Warwick Medical School in the UK and scientific director of the Department of Population Health at the Luxembourg Institute of Health (LIH) gathered data on chocolate consumption and its effects.

They analysed the chocolate consumption of 1,153 people aged 18 to 69 who were part of the Observation of Cardiovascular Risk in Luxembourg (ORISCAV-LUX) study a food frequency questionnaire.

The team set out to investigate whether chocolate intake is associated with insulin resistance where the body’s cells do not effectively respond to insulin, raising the risk for type 2 diabetes and heart disease.

The researchers found that 81.8% of the study participants consumed chocolate, with an average consumption of 24.8 grams daily. Compared with participants who did not eat chocolate every day, those who did were found to have reduced insulin resistance and improved liver enzyme levels. The effect was stronger the higher the chocolate consumption, the team reports.

The findings remained after accounting for participants’ age, sex, education, lifestyle, and dietary factors that could affect the results such as the intake of tea and coffee which are rich in the antioxidants polyphenols, which the researchers say have the potential to spur chocolate’s benefits for cardio metabolic risk which refers to a person’s likelihood of developing diabetes, heart disease, or a stroke.

Participants who ate chocolate were more physically active, younger, and more highly educated than those who did not eat chocolate, according to the authors.

Professor Stranges and colleagues said that their findings suggest that chocolate consumption may reduce the risk of developing cardio metabolic disorders by improving liver enzyme levels and protecting against insulin resistance.

“Given the growing body of evidence, including our own study, cocoa-based products may represent an additional dietary recommendation to improve cardio metabolic health, however, observational results need to be supported by robust trial evidence,” he said.

“Potential applications of this knowledge include recommendations by healthcare professionals to encourage individuals to consume a wide range of phytochemical-rich foods, which can include dark chocolate in moderate amounts,” he explained.

But he pointed out that it is important to distinguish the difference between chocolate that contains natural cocoa and processed chocolate as the latter is much higher in calories.

“Therefore, physical activity, diet and other lifestyle factors must be carefully balanced to avoid detrimental weight gain over time,” he added.

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