Researchers have discovered a particular type of antioxidant in cocoa prevented laboratory mice from gaining excess weight and lowered their blood sugar levels.
Andrew P. Neilson and colleagues explain that cocoa, the basic ingredient of chocolate, is one of the most flavanol-rich foods around. Cocoa has several different kinds of these compounds, so Neilson's team decided to tease them apart and test each individually for health benefits.
The scientists fed groups of mice different diets, including high-fat and low-fat diets, and high-fat diets supplemented with different kinds of flavanols.
They found that adding one particular set of these compounds, known as oligomeric procyanidins (PCs), to the food made the biggest difference in keeping the mice's weight down if they were on high-fat diets. They also improved glucose tolerance, which could potentially help prevent type-2 diabetes. "Oligomeric PCs appear to possess the greatest antiobesity and antidiabetic bioactivities of the flavanols in cocoa, particularly at the low doses employed for the present study," the researchers state.
The report appears in ACS' Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry.