According to the National Institute of Health, 25.8 million Americans suffer from diabetes mellitus and another 79 million over the age of 20 have prediabetes, which means blood glucose levels are elevated above the normal range; however, they are not yet high enough to be deemed diabetic. As researchers continue to look for answers, in an ongoing quest to find ways to fight and prevent diabetes mellitus, a new study has been released that suggests the disease may be prevented by eating dark chocolate.
Slightly more men suffer from diabetes mellitus than women do at 11.8 percent to 10.8 percent; however, both genders have double the risk of death than people who do not suffer from the disease. In fact, diabetes mellitus is ranked as the seventh leading cause of death in the United States with 68 percent of those people passing away as a result of heart disease or stroke caused by their diabetes.
Annual health costs related to treating the deadly disease total approximately $174 billion, with $116 billion going to cover the cost of treatment supplies, medical care, and hospitalization, and $58 billion going to cover time lost from work, disability payments, and premature death.
These staggering statistics keep researchers looking for an answer as to how the disease can be prevented, and they may have found a glimmer of hope in dark chocolate, which is known for its health benefiting properties. Previous studies have proved that when eaten, the flavanols, which are a type of healthy antioxidant, found in dark chocolate could lower blood pressure and improve cardiovascular health. In addition, they could improve blood flow to the brain and heart, and even boost blood platelets by improving their ability to clot the blood.
Now, a recent study published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry further delves into the health benefits of dark chocolate. Researchers with the Department of Food Science and Technology, the Department of Human Nutrition, Foods and Exercise, and the Metabolic Phenotyping Core Facility Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University suggest that there is a link between the flavanols found in dark chocolate and their ability to help prevent type two diabetes mellitus and obesity when eaten.
During the study, researchers compared the results of different mice control groups. Some mice were fed a low-fat diet while others were fed a high-fat diet. All of the mice who ate a high-fat diet were given certain levels of flavanols. One specific type of flavanol used by the researchers was oligomeric procyanidins (PCs), which when compared to other compounds used, showed an improvement in being able to prevent obesity and diabetes mellitus. In fact, this particular flavanol, found in dark chocolate, was successful in keeping the weight down and raising tolerance to glucose in mice that were fed high-fat diets.
While diabetes mellitus may be prevented by eating dark chocolate, researchers say it must be unprocessed dark chocolate, which will have more of a bitter taste. The bitterness comes directly from the flavanols that are necessary for providing anti-diabetic and anti-obesity properties. When dark chocolate is over processed, in an attempt to take away the bitterness and make it taste sweeter, it strips away the flavanols and all of their health benefiting properties.
By Donna W. Martin