It’s always great to hear that one of your favorite snacks is actually good for you, and the evidence is definitely stacking up for the benefits of eating chocolate.
There’s an old expression, “A little of what you fancy does you good.” While the saying is credited to a vaudeville song – reportedly made famous by the risqué Victorian singer Marie Lloyd and speaking of the benefits of sex – when referring to chocolate, those words are increasingly becoming fact.
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Of course, everything is good in moderation, and this includes our favorite treat, but a study has shown that by eating a bar of chocolate every day we could actually reduce both heart disease and the risk of diabetes. In fact, the researchers who have been performing the study say healthcare professionals should recommend the habit of eating chocolate to their patients to keep them healthy.
Speaking of diabetes, previous studies in mice found that cocoa supplements actually reduced insulin resistance – incidences where cells in the body are unable to effectively use insulin, leading to high blood sugar. However, at that stage, while the results sounded good, reportedly researchers from the Luxembourg Institute of Health said the evidence of the effects of chocolate on insulin resistance was “lacking.”
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However, researchers went on to investigate the chocolate consumption habits of 1,153 people using data from the 2006 survey “Observation of Cardiovascular Risk” in Luxembourg. The researchers also took into account whether participants in the study drank tea or coffee. Reportedly, both drinks can often be high in polyphenol, a nutrient which is believed could give chocolate its beneficial effects on health.
The findings were published in the British Journal of Nutrition and after taking into account other dietary and lifestyle habits showed that people eating 100g of chocolate every day had reduced their insulin resistance and had improved liver enzymes.
It certainly sounds like a win-win situation, as Saverio Stranges, one of the researchers involved in the study, 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.”
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Reportedly, reducing insulin resistance lowers the risk of high blood sugar, which then also reduces the higher risk of cardiovascular disease.
“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,” Stranges said.
— Canadian Living (@canadianliving) April 28, 2016
According to a report by the International Business Times, while this all sounds well and good, Stranges does go on to emphasize the importance of differentiating between which chocolate products actually do the trick in protecting our health.
“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.”
According to the research team, there is much more work to be done in the field to understand the role chocolate can play in reducing both diabetes and cardiovascular disease, with Stranges adding, “Observational results need to be supported by robust trial evidence.”
In the meantime, we can all run our own experiments, enjoying the best chocolate there is to be found on the market.