Daily choco­late in­take linked to lower risk of di­a­betes, heart dis­ease

Pakistan Observer - - KARACHI CITY -

COULD a doc­tor’s visit one day re­sult in a pre­scrip­tion for choco­late? Ac­cord ing to a new study, it is pos­si­ble. Re­searchers sug­gest that con­sum­ing a small amount of choco­late every day may lower the risk of di­a­betes and heart dis­ease. Study co- au­thor Prof. Save­rio Stranges - visit­ing aca­demic of the Univer­sity of War­wick Med­i­cal School, United Kingdom, and sci­en­tific di­rec­tor of the De­part­ment of Pop­u­la­tion Health at the Lux­em­bourg In­sti­tute of Health ( LIH) - and col­leagues pub­lish their find­ings in the Bri­tish Jour­nal of Nu­tri­tion.

Choco­late is of­ten per­ceived as a treat that should only be en­joyed from time to time. Given its high fat and sugar con­tent, this is no sur­prise; over­con­sump­tion can lead to health prob­lems, such as tooth de­cay and obe­sity. How­ever, stud­ies are in­creas­ingly sug­gest­ing reg­u­lar, moder­ate choco­late con­sump­tion may yield sig­nif­i­cant health ben­e­fits, par­tic­u­larly when it comes to dark choco­late. Dark choco­late has the high­est co­coa con­tent, which means it has the high­est lev­els of an­tiox­i­dants - specif­i­cally, flavonoids - which are mol­e­cules that can pre­vent some forms of cell damage.

For their study, Prof. Stranges and col­leagues an­a­lyzed the choco­late con­sump­tion of 1,153 peo­ple aged 18- 69 who were part of the Ob­ser­va­tion of Car­dio­vas­cu­lar Risk in Lux­em­bourg ( ORISCAV- LUX) study. Data on choco­late in­take were gath­ered from par­tic­i­pants’ com­ple­tion of a food fre­quency ques- tion­naire. The team set out to in­ves­ti­gate whether choco­late in­take is as­so­ci­ated with in­sulin re­sis­tance - where the body’s cells do not ef­fec­tively re­spond to in­sulin, rais­ing the risk for type 2 di­a­betes and heart dis­ease.

They also as­sessed how choco­late con­sump­tion af­fected liver en­zyme lev­els, which is a mea­sure of liver func­tion. The re­searchers found that 81.8 per­cent of the study par­tic­i­pants con­sumed choco­late, with an av­er­age con­sump­tion of 24.8 grams daily. Com­pared with par­tic­i­pants who did not eat choco­late every day, those who did were found to have re­duced in­sulin re­sis­tance and im­proved liver en­zyme lev­els. The ef­fect was stronger the higher the choco­late con­sump­tion, the team re­ports. The find­ings re­mained af­ter ac­count­ing for par­tic­i­pants’ age, sex, ed­u­ca­tion, life­style, and di­etary fac­tors that could af­fect the re­sults. Di­etary fac­tors in­cluded in­take of tea and cof­fee rich in the an­tiox­i­dants polyphe­nols, which the re­searchers say have the po­ten­tial to spur choco­late’s ben­e­fits for car­diometabolic risk. Car­diometabolic risk refers to a per­son’s like­li­hood of de­vel­op­ing di­a­betes, heart dis­ease, or stroke. Par­tic­i­pants who ate choco­late were more phys­i­cally ac­tive, younger, and more highly ed­u­cated than those who did not eat choco­late, ac­cord­ing to the au­thors. Prof. Stranges and col­leagues say their find­ings sug­gest that choco­late con­sump­tion may re­duce the risk of de­vel­op­ing car­diometabolic dis­or­ders by im­prov­ing liver en­zyme lev­els and pro­tect­ing against in­sulin re­sis­tance.

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