Coca-rich diet linked to improved diabetes control

Tue, 12 Mar 2013
A new study suggests that a diet rich in cocoa may help control blood sugar levels in people with type 2 diabetes .

The research, published in the Molecular Nutrition and Food Research journal, examined the impact of a cocoa extract containing the flavanol epicatechin on insulin levels.

Flavanols are naturally occurring antioxidants found in various type of plants, such as the cocoa plant. Epicatechin is one of the main flavanols in cocoa and is abundant in dark chocolate .

The researchers found that when exposed to the extract, insulin pathways and receptors in the body improved.

"Our data suggest that epicatechin and cocoa phenolic extract strengthen insulin signalling by activating key proteins of that pathway and regulating glucose production through activated protein kinase and modulation in HepG2 [liver] cells," they explained, concluding that "a diet rich in epicatechin and/or cocoa may be a potential chemopreventive tool useful for the management of diabetes."

However, Diabetes UK stressed that the concentration of cocoa flavanols naturally found in chocolate is not sufficient to have any benefit for diabetics, and that increasing dark chocolate intake would outweigh any potential benefits due to the extra sugar, calories and fat consumed.

The group's head of research, Dr Matthew Hobbs, added: "The implication that eating chocolate will help people with type 2 diabetes to control their blood sugar is simply not a conclusion that can be drawn from this research ."
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