Originally published January 26 2006
Italian study determines chocolate could help fight diabetes
by Mike Adams, the Health Ranger, NaturalNews Editor
Researchers at the University of L'Aquila have found that the flavenols in dark chocolate reduce the risk of insulin resistance, which comes as very good news to diabetics. Of course, typical chocolate candy, which contains refined sugar, would be quite detrimental to diabetics. Only raw, unprocessed chocolate (cacao), without refined sweeteners, exhibits a protective effect.
The findings, by a group of Italian researchers, reveal that snacking regularly on the equivalent of one medium sized bar a day protects against a condition called insulin resistance.
Insulin is produced by the pancreas and has the job of helping the body's cells absorb glucose from the blood.
This helps cells turn glucose into energy for muscles.
But in the very early stages of diabetes, cells become resistant to insulin and stop responding to its mechanisms.
This form of the disease is often linked with being overweight and having poor diet, and although it can usually be controlled through diet, some people do end up needing regular insulin jabs.
Many previous studies have highlighted the potential health benefits of flavanols.
The cocoa plant, from which chocolate is made, is another rich source.
But the chocolate manufacturing process can radically affect the amount of flavanols that end up in our favourite brands.
They recruited 15 healthy volunteers and gave them 100g of dark chocolate every day for 15 days, then seven days with no chocolate at all, followed by 100g of white chocolate daily for another 15 days.
Throughout the test, blood samples from each volunteer were regularly checked for insulin resistance, and blood pressure was also monitored.
Experts believe adding milk and sugar to chocolate cancels out many of the health benefits derived from flavanols.
Last year, scientists at Imperial College in London also discovered chocolate contained an ingredient, called theobromine, which had the power to halt persistent coughs and performed better than medicine prescribed by doctors.
A spokeswoman for Diabetes UK said that although dark chocolate may help, it was vital that anyone with the disease retained a balanced diet.
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