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New study proves health benefits of dark chocolate

Tuesday 3rd May 2016
Regular dark chocolate consumption could help to prevent the development of type 2 diabetes and heart disease. Image: BackenistGold via iStock
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People who eat a small amount of dark chocolate every day may be significantly less likely to develop type 2 diabetes and heart disease, a new study suggests.

Research carried out by scientists from the University of Warwick Medical School and the Department of Population Health at the Luxembourg Institute of Health found that dark chocolate is the healthiest variety. This is because it has the highest cocoa content of all types of chocolate, which means it contains a high volume of flavonoids, an antioxidant able to prevent damage to some cells.

Doctors analysed the chocolate consumption of 1,153 participants, of whom 81.8 per cent regularly ate chocolate, with an average of 24.8 grams eaten per day.

A series of tests were conducted on each individual, with the results showing that those who consumed chocolate on a regular basis typically had reduced insulin resistance, meaning they were less likely to develop type 2 diabetes.

The researchers also looked at the effect of tea and coffee consumption in how it affected the release of flavonoids from chocolate, finding that these drinks enhanced the process and lowered the body's cardiometabolic risk.

As a result, frequent dark chocolate eaters were also less likely to suffer from cardiovascular disease, strokes and heart attacks.

However, chocolate still has a high sugar and fat content, meaning it should only be eaten in moderation as part of a balanced diet for these health benefits to be achieved.

Professor Saverio Stranges, co-author of the study, commented: "Given the growing body of evidence, including our own study, cocoa-based products may represent an additional dietary recommendation to improve cardiometabolic 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."

Written by Martin Lambert

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