Do you love chocolate? If so, the results of a new study will make you happy.
The sweet treat – once considered “junk food” – has been the subject of much research lately, and has been found to have many health benefits.
Now, the findings of a new study published in the British Journal of Nutrition adds to the growing body of research on the “food of the gods.”
The study, conducted by the Luxembourg Institute of Health (LIH), the University of Warwick Medical School, the University of South Australia, and the University of Maine, found that consuming a small amount of chocolate each day could help prevent diabetes and insulin resistance.
Data of 1,153 people aged 18-69 years old who were part of the Observation of Cardiovascular Risk in Luxembourg (ORISCAV-LUX) study were analyzed. It was found that those who ate 100 g of chocolate a day – equivalent to a bar – had reduced insulin resistance and improved liver enzymes. Insulin sensitivity is a well-established risk factor for cardiovascular disease.
The researchers hypothesized that chocolate consumption may have a beneficial effect on insulin sensitivity and liver enzymes, and decided to analyze a national sample of adults. They took into account lifestyle and dietary factors, including the simultaneous consumption of tea and coffee. The reason? Both drinks tend to be high in polyphenol, the substance which may provide chocolate with its beneficial cardiometabolic effects.
Prof Saverio Stranges, Visiting Academic at the University of Warwick Medical School and Scientific Director of the Department of Population Health at LIH said:
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.
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. However, it is important to differentiate between the natural product cocoa and the processed product chocolate, which is an energy-dense food. Therefore, physical activity, diet and other lifestyle factors must be carefully balanced to avoid detrimental weight gain over time.
More than 80% of participants claimed to eat an average of 24.8 g of chocolate a day. The study also found that those who claimed to eat chocolate were younger, more physically active and had higher levels of education than those who claimed not to eat chocolate on a daily basis.
Dr Ala’a Alkerwi, the Principal Investigator of the study at LIH said:
It is also possible that chocolate consumption may represent an overall marker for a cluster of favorable socio-demographic profiles, healthier lifestyle behaviors and better health status. This could explain, at least in part, the observed inverse associations with insulin and liver biomarkers.
The paper concluded that further observational research and randomized controlled studies are needed to understand the role chocolate may play in insulin resistance and cardiometabolic disorders.
This sure is promising news for chocoholics! Researchers probably have no trouble finding people who are willing to participate in these studies.