Dark Chocolate May Prevent Obesity and Type 2 Diabetes

Apr 03, 2014 07:21 AM EDT | By Staff Writer

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Do you like dark chocolate? Then you may be in luck. It turns out that key ingredients in chocolate can actually help prevent diabetes. (Photo : Flickr/Lee McCoy)

Do you like dark chocolate? Then you may be in luck. It turns out that key ingredients in chocolate can actually help prevent diabetes. The findings come just as researchers start looking at the healthful benefits of this yummy treat.

In order to find out a little bit more about the health benefits of chocolate, the researchers fed groups of mice different diets-including high-fat and low-fat diets. These diets also included a high-fat diet supplemented with different kinds of flavanols, one of the ingredients in chocolate.

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Flavanols can be found in many foods, such as grapes and tea. Yet these antioxidants can also be found in chocolate. In addition, not all flavanols are the same; cocoa in particular has several types of these compounds that may have different benefits.

So what did the researchers find? It turns out that by adding one particular set of these compounds, known as oligomeric procyanidins (PCs), so the food, they were able to make a big difference in keeping the mice's weight down if they were on a high-fat diet. Not only that, but PCs also improved glucose tolerance, which could potentially help prevent type-2 diabetes.

This isn't the first time that researchers have found health benefits in chocolate. Recently, scientists found that chocolate could potentially have benefits for your heart. Other studies are focusing on using chocolate pills in order to test health benefits.

That's not to say that you should eat a lot of chocolate, though. Most chocolate is mixed with sugar and other ingredients, which can be detrimental to your health. Yet cocoa powder without sugar does seem to have health benefits, and these benefits could potentially be extracted and used for treatments in the future.

"Oligomeric PCs appear to possess the greatest antiobesity and anbidiabetic bioactivities of the flavanols in cocoa, particularly at the low doses employed for the present day," said the researchers, according to a news release.

The most recent findings were published in the Journal of Agricultural & Food Chemistry.

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