Including a small amount of chocolate each day could help prevent diabetes and insulin resistance. That's one of the research findings from the Luxembourg Institute of Health (LIH), the University of Warwick Medical School, the University of South Australia and the University of Maine.
Data of 1,153 people aged 18-69 years old who were part of the Observation of Cardiovascular Risk in Luxembourg (ORISCAV-LUX) study were analysed. It was found that those who ate 100 g of chocolate a day - equivalent to a bar - had reduced insulin resistance and improved liver enzymes. Insulin sensitivity is a well-established risk factor to cardiovascular disease.
The academics hypothesised that chocolate consumption may have a beneficial effect on insulin sensitivity and liver enzymes and therefore decided to analyse a national sample of adults, taking into account lifestyle and dietary factors, including the simultaneous consumption of tea and coffee. This is because both drinks can be high in polyphenol, the substance which may provide chocolate with its beneficial cardiometabolic effects.
"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. However, it is important to differentiate between the natural product cocoa and the processed product chocolate,
which is an energy-dense food. Therefore, physical activity, diet and other lifestyle factors must be carefully balanced to avoid detrimental weight gain over time."
More than 80% of participants claimed to eat an average of 24.8 g of chocolate a day. The study also found that those who claimed to eat chocolate were younger, more physically active and had higher levels of education than those who claimed not to eat chocolate on a daily basis.
Dr Ala'a Alkerwi, the Principal Investigator of the study at LIH said: "It is also possible that chocolate consumption may represent an overall marker for a cluster of favourable socio-demographic profiles, healthier lifestyle behaviours and better health status. This could explain, at least in part, the observed inverse associations with insulin and liver biomarkers."