- Compounds present in cocoa may
help delay the onset of type 2 diabetes, finds a new study
- Epicatechin monomers is a cocoa
compound that enhanced beta cells' ability to secrete insulin
- This compound can be added to
foods or supplements to maintain normal blood glucose control and also
prevent or delay the onset of type-2 diabetes
naturally in cocoa can help the body release more insulin and respond to
increased blood glucose better, finds a new study conducted by a research team
at the Brigham Young University (BYU).
Cocoa is rich in flavanols, which are a
class of polyphenols. Studies have shown that cocoa flavonols benefit health in
different ways. Monomeric, oligomeric and polymeric cocoa flavonols have
different effects on insulin resistance, glucose tolerance, and obesity. For
the current study, the research team focused on the effects of cocoa flavonols
on beta cell function.
‘Chocolates contain a compound called epicatechin monomers that helps the body release more insulin and prevent type 2 diabetes.’
Delays the Onset of Type 2 Diabetes?
individual has diabetes
, the body
does not produce enough insulin or does not process blood glucose properly.
Beta cell dysfunction and loss of functional beta cell mass is the hallmark of
type 2 diabetes. Studies have shown that a mechanism that improves or preserve
beta cell function could improve the quality of life of people with type 2 diabetes
. The study found that beta
cells work better and remain stronger with an increased presence of compounds
found in cocoa called epicatechin monomers.
A study was
conducted on mice to find the effect of cocoa on delaying the onset of diabetes
Collaborators at Virginia Tech fed cocoa compound to mice on a high-fat diet.
The research team found that adding the cocoa compound to the high-fat diet can
decrease the level of obesity in mice and increase their ability to deal with
increased blood glucose levels.
A detailed study
was conducted by the BYU research team to explore what was happening on the
cellular level. The BYU research team comprised of both graduate and
undergraduate students in Jeffery Tessem's lab and the labs of Ben Bikman and
Jason Hansen, BYU professors of physiology and developmental biology. The team
specifically focused on the beta cell and found that a cocoa compound called
epicatechin monomers enhanced beta cells' ability to secrete insulin.
Epicatechin is abundant in dark chocolate. One gram of cocoa powder contains
4.6 mg of epicatechin and 2.2 mg of catechin.
monomers protect the beta cells and increase their ability to deal with
oxidative stress. It makes the mitochondria in the beta cells stronger, which
produces more ATP (adenosine triphosphate).
the cell's energy source, which results in more insulin being released.
Over the past
decade, numerous studies have been conducted on similar compounds. But, until
now, none of the studies have been able to pinpoint which cocoa compound is the
most beneficial and how it brings about any benefit. The current study has
shown that epicatechin monomers, the smallest of the cocoa compounds are the most effective.
results will help us get closer to using these compounds more effectively in
foods or supplements to maintain normal blood glucose control and potentially
even delay or prevent the onset of type-2 diabetes," said study co-author
Andrew Neilson, assistant professor of food science at Virginia Tech.
probably have to eat a lot of cocoa, and you probably don't want it to have a
lot of sugar in it. It's the compound in cocoa you're after," said study
author Tessem, assistant professor of nutrition, dietetics and food science at
team is looking for ways to take the epicatechin compound out of cocoa, make
more of it and then use it as a potential treatment for current diabetes
patients. The study was funded by the Diabetes Action Research and Education
Foundation and the American Diabetes Association.
The findings of
the study are published in the Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry.
published in the European Journal of Nutrition
cocoa reduced the risk of obesity-related inflammation and type 2 diabetes.
Cocoa improved diabetes risk indicators including lower plasma insulin and
reduced liver triglycerides. Another study published in the Molecular
Nutrition & Food Research
found that epicatechin, which is the
main flavonol in cocoa improved insulin levels and helped people manage
- Thomas J. Rowley, Benjamin F. Bitner, Jason D. Ray, Daniel R. Lathen, Andrew T. Smithson, Blake W. Dallon, Chase J. Plowman, Benjamin T. Bikman, Jason M. Hansen, Melanie R. Dorenkott, Katheryn M. Goodrich, Liyun Ye, Sean F. O'Keefe, Andrew P. Neilson, Jeffery S. Tessem. Monomeric cocoa catechins enhance β-cell function by increasing mitochondrial respiration. The Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry,(2017); DOI: 10.1016/j.jnutbio.2017.07.015