Good news for male chocolate eaters!

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A report in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition (2015) suggests that chocolate, especially dark, lowers your risk of type 2 diabetes (DM).  Analysis of data on 18, 235 subjects who were free of type 2 diabetes at baseline showed an inverse relationship between chocolate intake and incidence of DM, especially for those without a history of cardiovascular disease. (inverse relationship means higher intake of chocolate = lower risk of DM).  This good news comes after the American Heart Association already suggested that daily chocolate intake may lower blood pressure and improve blood sugar.

In this report study participants (average age 66 at start of 9 year study) who consumed 1-3 servings per month had a 7% lower risk for DM compared with those who ate no chocolate.

1-3 servings a month?! Most of us eat far more than that! Don’t worry : the more chocolate consumed the better the reduction in risk :- 1 serving a week = 14% reduced risk, 2 or more servings a week = 17% reduced risk. Even more benefit was shown for younger study members with a BMI under 25 – a drop in DM risk of 41%. The study participants were all men though, so a replicated study in women is required.  Any volunteers?

The powerful but small cacao bean, from which the cocoa in chocolate is derived, contains compounds called flavanols. Flavanols are found in other beneficial foods, such as tea and red wines; however, cocoa contains more flavanols per serving than either. Flavanols are a type of antioxidant. Antioxidants are molecules that can safely interact with or even “tame” free radicals, which are thought to create oxidative stress and even damage or mutate an organism’s cells. Foods like cocoa that are rich in flavanols help prevent and repair such damage. The cardiovascular benefits include a decrease in blood pressure owing to reduced inflammation of the arteries. Since cocoa is plant-based (cacao beans are tree nuts), it adds no cholesterol to the body. Cocoa’s antioxidants boost “good” cholesterol (HDL). HDL helps the body metabolize fats in the bloodstream, lowering LDL and preventing heart attack and stroke. Cocoa can offer many benefits and in powder form has less fat and less sugar than sweetened regular or dark chocolate. One tablespoon of unsweetened cocoa has approximately 10–12 calories, 1 gram (g) of total fat, 2 g of dietary fibre and 1 g of protein, making it a great way to add chocolate to your healthy diet.

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