A Small Amount of Chocolate a Day Could Keep Diabetes Away

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Findings from a new study suggest that eating a small quantity of chocolate each day could cut the risk of heart disease and type 2 diabetes.

According to academics, participants who ate 100g of dark chocolate (the equivalent of one bar) each day saw an improvement in liver enzymes and a reduction in insulin resistance.

The study was carried out by the University of Maine, the University of South Australia, the University of Warwick Medical School and the Luxembourg Institute of Health (LIH). It can be found in the British Journal of Nutrition. It analysed data from 1,153 people between the ages of 18 and 69 as part of the Observation of Cardiovascular Risk in Luxembourg.

More than 80 percent of participants said they ate 24.8g of chocolate on average every day. The academics thought that consumption of chocolate could have a beneficial effect on liver enzymes and insulin sensitivity, so they decided to analyse a sample of adults. They took dietary and lifestyle factors into consideration, such as the simultaneous drinking of coffee and tea.

Both coffee and tea can be high in polyphenol, the substance that could give chocolate its advantageous cardiometabolic qualities.

The study also found that those who ate the chocolate had higher education levels, were younger and took part in more physical exercise than those who said they didn’t eat chocolate daily.

Scientific director of the Department of Population Health at LIH, Professor Saverio Stranges, said that when you take into account the increasing amount of evidence, this new study included, cocoa-based products could denote an additional recommended dietary requirement to develop cardiometabolic health. He did add, however, that observational results must be backed by vigorous trial evidence.

Professor Stranges went on to stress the importance of differentiating between cocoa as a natural product and processed chocolate, which is energy-dense. He also said that diet, physical exercise and other lifestyle factors need to be balanced carefully to avoid substantial weight gain over time.

The study’s principal investigator at LIH, Dr Ala’a Alkerwi, said it could be possible that consumption of chocolate can represent an overall marker for better health status, a number of favourable socio-demographic profiles and healthier lifestyle behaviours. He said that this could at least partially explain the observed inverse associations with liver biomarkers and insulin.

Diabetes UK director of research, Dr Elizabeth Robertson, said that although eating small amounts of dark chocolate to lower the risk of type 2 diabetes is a tempting idea, the findings should be taken cautiously. She said that whilst the study has found a potential link, further clinical trials are necessary to confirm whether chocolate is advantageous.

Dr Robertson went on to say that it’s also important to think about the fact that the sugar in chocolate might counteract the benefits through weight gain. She concluded by saying that maintaining a healthy weight through exercise and diet can reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes.