A new study has claimed that an ingredient of dark chocolate could assist in the control of severely high cholesterol levels, a major problem for those suffering from diabetes. Previous research has highlighted that chocolate which contains a high level of cocoa solids rich in polyphenols may be able to reduce the risk of heart disease, and this study, published in the journal Diabetic Medicine, saw a reduction in cholesterol for a small number of diabetics given chocolate that contained a lot of the chemical.
The researchers, from Hull University, examined 12 patients with type 2 diabetes who were given identical chocolate bars, some of which were enriched with polyphenols. The patients that consumed the enriched bars experienced a small improvement in their overall cholesterol rating, with a drop in total cholesterol while the level of good cholesterol increased.
Steve Atkin, who led the study, said “Chocolate with a high cocoa content should be included in the diet of individuals with type 2 diabetes as part of a sensible, balanced approach to diet and lifestyle.” However, the charity Diabetes UK warned that these findings may mislead people into eating too much chocolate, arguing that the high fat and sugar content probably outweighed any benefits.
Dr Iain Frame, director of research at Diabetes UK, commented “On no account should people take away the message from this study, conducted in only 12 people, that eating even a small amount of dark chocolate is going to help reduce their cholesterol levels.” He added “It would, however, be interesting to see if further research could find a way of testing whether polyphenols could be added to foods which weren’t high in sugar and saturated fat such as chocolate”.
Researchers from the University of Hull and the Hull York Medical School have found dark chocolate has a significant effect on reducing the symptoms of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS). The research, published in Nutrition Journal, found that polyphenol rich chocolate eases the condition, with subjects noting significant improvements to their well-being. Chocolate is known to increase neurotransmitters like phenyl ethylamine, serotonin, and anandamide in the brain, but this is the first time that polyphenol rich chocolate in people with CFS has been studied.
Above: Professor Steve Atkin.
Subjects with CFS having severe fatigue of at least 10 out of 11 on Chalder Fatigue Scale were enrolled on the pilot study. Participants were given one of two types of chocolate, one with a high cocoa content and the other without.
Over an eight week period the volunteers consumed one type of chocolate followed by a two week wash out period and then another eight weeks of eating the other variety. The dark chocolate contained 85% cocoa solids with the alternative containing none. Each individual bar weighed 15g with each volunteer expected to eat three per day, and also told not to consume more or make changes to their diet.
Researchers also noted the weight of subject did not significantly alter despite consuming an extra 245 calories per day for two months.
Professor Steve Atkin who led the study says: “The significance of the results is particularly surprising because of the small number of subjects in the study. A further study is needed to see what the effects would be on a larger group of people, but this is potentially very encouraging news for those who suffer from Chronic Fatigue Syndrome.”
This latest finding follows recent research also carried out at the University of Hull and the Hull York Medical School where dark chocolate was found to help reduce the risk of heart attacks in people with Type 2 diabetes by increasing the amount of good cholesterol in the blood stream.