Even though eating sweets can lead to a lot of medical problems, over the years scientists have said that a proper consumption of sweet treats can do wonders for a person’s cardiovascular system. A recent study from Brown University has come forward with the strongest results suggesting that daily consumption of chocolate is good for human beings.
A team of researchers from Brown University did a meta-analysis of previously conducted 19 research papers. The team identified that flavanol, present in coca plants, helped to decrease inflammation in arteries. The risk of developing numerous heart diseases was drastically decreased through the daily consumption of 600 mg of cocoa that is rich in flavanol. This includes natural dark chocolate or pure hot cocoa.
Flavanols are antioxidants. They are naturally present not only in cocoa but also in vegetables, fruits, red wine and tea. However, cocoa flavanols have a very unique combination of phytonutrients that are specifically present in cocoa beans. Flavanols are essential to maintain a healthy flow of oxygen in a person’s blood and providing organs with the required nutrients.
The co-author of the study, Dr. Simin Liu, said that the current results from their research could play a role in changing the preventive techniques related to the field of heart disease and diabetes. Other researchers are implored to continue with the research and conduct further in-depth studies in order to understand all of the benefits that chocolate possesses with regards to human health.
Dr. Lin worked with a graduate student named Xiachen Lin. The study was focused on the link present between cocoa products rich in flavanol and specific circulating biomarkers of a person’s cardiometabolic health. A total of 1,139 participants were part of the current trials. The results of the study showed that there was a significant improvement in participants that consumed cocoa products rich in flavanol compared to participants who didn’t. The greatest health effect was observed in participants that ate 200-600 mg of flavanol on a daily basis.
The researchers were able to see a significant decline in a person’s insulin and blood glucose levels. A decline was also observed in another indicator, related to insulin resistance, known as HOMA-IR. An increase in good cholesterol or HDL was also observed.
Participants that were consuming higher amounts of cocoa products were able to show some benefits related to insulin resistance along with a reduction in triglycerides. However, there was no increase in their HDL that could be considered as significant. The results showed that volunteers that ate a lower dose of cocoa, rich in flavanols, experienced a noteworthy HDL benefit.
The results also state that health benefits were seen in both men and women regardless of the form that flavanol rich cocoa product was consumed by them. The benefits were similar whether they ate dark chocolate or decided to drink a beverage. But these results shouldn’t be generalized when it comes to different kinds of white chocolates or candies because the content of food additives or sugar could be far higher than what is present in dark chocolate.
The current study, published in Journal of Nutrition, wasn’t without its limitations. All of the studies that were part of the meta-analysis were small and lasted for a short duration. Also, none of the studies dealt directly with finding out a cause and effect relationship between reduction of Type – II diabetes or heart attack due to consumption of cocoa that is rich in flavanol.