What are the health benefits of dark chocolate?
Ahh, dreams really do come true! Daily chocolate intake is thought to be linked to a reduced risk of diabetes. But before you dive into the bag of bite size peanut butter cups, read on…
The Luxembourg Institute of Health recently published a study in the British Journal of Nutrition showing that moderate, regular consumption of dark chocolate can provide significant health benefits. The study was quick to point out that this did not include processed chocolate candy, but rather minimally processed chocolate with high cocoa content. Cocoa is rich in an antioxidant called flavonoids. Flavonoids can prevent some forms of cell damage. The higher the cocoa content the darker the chocolate. Also, the darker the chocolate the less sugar which adds another layer of health benefits.
The study looked at 1,153 people aged 18-69 who were part of a cardiovascular risk group in Luxembourg. As part of the study, participants completed a food frequency questionnaire. This is where researchers obtained their chocolate data. Not surprisingly, almost 82% of participants consumed chocolate, an average of 24.8 grams per day. When compared to the participants who did not consume chocolate they found:
- Daily chocolate consumption reduced insulin resistance and improved liver enzymes.
- The higher the chocolate consumption, the stronger the effect.
- The findings remained true even after accounting for age, sex, education, lifestyle, and other dietary factors such as coffee and tea consumption.
- Coffee and tea, also rich in a type of antioxidant, has the potential to increase the chocolate’s benefits.
- Diet and physical activity should be balanced to avoid weight gain over time.
However, before multiplying your chocolate consumption thinking it can only help you in your health endeavors, consider additional findings that help bring a realistic understanding of the benefits of dark chocolate. For example, this article highlights the reality of alternative findings, and debate the quality of chocolates from source to source.
Regardless, as research continues to show chocolate’s effect on cardio-metabolic health, we may one day live in an age where your doctor’s prescription pad includes a dose of chocolate.