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Chocolate Fights Diabetes

Quite a few studies have trumpeted the health benefits of chocolate. And now researchers at Penn State have found that dark chocolate may help folks who are obese control the destructive inflammation linked to diabetes and other diseases.

“What surprised me was the magnitude of the effect,” says researcher Joshua Lambert, an associate professor of food science. “There wasn’t as big of an effect on the body weight as we expected, but I was surprised at the dramatic reduction of inflammation and fatty liver disease.”

Lambert’s research involved feeding lab animals the equivalent of about half a cup of cocoa a week for 10 weeks. The scientists found that the chocolate resulted in plasma insulin levels that were 27 percent lower and liver triglycerides (liver fats) that were 32 percent lower. Both of those results show that the chocolate was lowering harmful inflammation.

“Most obesity researchers tend to steer clear of chocolate because it is high in fat, high in sugar and is usually considered an indulgence,” says Lambert. “However, cocoa powder is low in fat and low in sugar. We looked at cocoa because it contains a lot of polyphenolic compounds, so it is analogous to things like green tea and wine, which researchers have been studying for some of their health benefits.”