Scientists are researching on the ingredients in chocolate that might help prevent obesity, type-2 diabetes and potential health benefits such as improved thinking, decreased appetite and lowered blood pressure.
They found that an antioxidant in cocoa prevented laboratory mice from gaining excess weight and lowered their blood sugar levels.
Their report appears in the Journal of Agricultural & Food Chemistry by the American Chemical Society.
Cocoa, the basic ingredient of chocolate, is one of the most flavanol-rich foods around, according to researcher Andrew P. Neilson and his colleagues.
While previous research has shown that flavanols in other foods such as grapes and tea can help fight weight gain and type-2 diabetes, not all flavanols, which are a type of antioxidant, are created equal.
Oligomeric procyanidins found to keep weight down in mice
As cocoa has several different kinds of these compounds, the researchers decided to tease them apart and test each individually for health benefits.
They fed groups of mice different diets, including high-fat and low-fat diets, and high-fat diets supplemented with different kinds of flavanols.
They found that adding one particular set of these compounds, known as oligomeric procyanidins (PCs), to the food made the biggest difference in keeping the mice’s weight down if they were on high-fat diets.
They also improved glucose tolerance, which could potentially help prevent type-2 diabetes.
“Oligomeric PCs appear to possess the greatest anti-obesity and anti-diabetic bioactivities of the flavanols in cocoa, particularly at the low doses employed for the present study,” said the researchers.