There he goes again, you are thinking, as a laud the health benefits of one of my favorite foods, dark chocolate. Imagine a world in which eating chocolate could help to prevent and treat diabetes? Researchers have recently identified compounds in cocoa that can lead your body to release more insulin (which helps regulate your blood sugar) and respond to increased blood sugar in a better way. Magic, right? Well hold on: You probably need to eat a lot of cocoa (so far, so good), and you don’t want to have a lot of sugar in it.
Researchers at Virginia Tech (USA) fed coca to animals on a high-fat diet. They found that adding the coca lowered the levels of obesity among the animals, and increased their ability to deal with increased blood glucose. Then, investigators from Brigham Young University (USA) turned to what was happening on a cellular level. They found that cocoa compounds known as epicatechin monomers made the cell mitochondria (power stations) stronger among beta cells. These cells are in the pancreas, and are designed to store and release insulin (the hormone that regulates blood sugar, or glucose).
The takeaway message? We know that, for selected individuals, dark chocolate in moderation may improve health. Still, rather than overstocking dark chocolate, we need to wait for researchers to take the active compound out of cocoa and then use it to lower the risk of,or even treat, diabetes. I’m Dr. Michael Hunter.