Could you believe that one day a doctor’s visit might result in a prescription for chocolate? Yeah! A new study says it is possible. Researchers suggest that consuming a small amount of chocolate every day may lower the risk of diabetes and heart disease. Sorry, girls, that doesn’t mean a whole box of chocolates! Study co-author Prof. Saverio Stranges, a visiting academic of the University of Warwick Medical School, United Kingdom, and scientific director of the Department of Population Health at the Luxembourg Institute of Health along with colleagues, have published their findings in the British Journal of Nutrition.
Up until now chocolate has been perceived as a treat that should be enjoyed only from time to time, given its high fat and sugar content. Now this is no surprise as overconsumption can lead to health problems such as tooth decay and obesity.
Studies are increasingly suggesting that regular, moderate chocolate consumption may yield significant health benefits, particularly when it comes to dark chocolate. It has the highest cocoa content, meaning it has the highest levels of antioxidants, specifically flavonoids. These flavonoids are molecules that can prevent some forms of cell damage. There were 1,153 people aged 18-69 who were part of the Observation of Cardiovascular Risk in Luxembourg study.
Chocolate intake data was gathered from participants after completion of a food frequency questionnaire, and the team set out to investigate whether chocolate intake is associated with insulin resistance. This is where the body’s cells do not effectively respond to insulin and raises the risk for type II diabetes and heart disease. They found 81.8% of the participants consumed chocolate with an average consumption of 24.8 grams daily. Those participants were found to have reduced insulin resistance and improved liver enzyme levels. Dietary factors included intake of tea and coffee, rich in the antioxidants polyphenois which are said to have the potential to spur chocolate’s benefits for cardiometabolic risk. Those who ate chocolate were more physically active, younger and more highly educated than those who did not eat chocolate.
This suggests to Prof. Stranges and colleagues that chocolate consumption may reduce the risk of developing cardiometabolic disorders by improving liver enzyme levels and protecting against insulin resistance. They do note that it is important to distinguish the difference between chocolate that contains natural cocoa and processed chocolate with the latter being much higher in calories. Physical activity, diet and other lifestyle factors must be carefully balanced to avoid detrimental weight gain over time.
I don’t know about you but this would be a study I would love to participate in! Just remember, chocolate must be eaten sensibly and preferably the dark chocolate in order to receive the benefits. Have a great “chocoholic” day!