Dark chocolate may not taste the same as those sweetened chocolate candy bars, but it is healthier. It contains less sugar and fat. In fact, it is gaining popularity because of its health effects and potentials in preventing cardiovascular diseases.

Now, a new study has added a few more health benefits that can be attributed to eating dark chocolates. These benefits are particularly helpful to diabetics and people who are trying to lose weight as dark chocolates apparently contain a substance that can curb weight gain and improve glucose tolerance.

In the study published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry February 24, a team of researchers from the Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University in Blacksburg, Virginia has conducted an experiment with laboratory mice to test the different groups of cocoa compounds and identify which one is the most effective in preventing weight gain and obesity. Cocoa is the basic ingredient found in chocolates.

Study researcher Andrew Neilson and his colleagues said that cocoa contains an antioxidant known as flavonol which can prevent weight gain and type-2 diabetes. Flavonols, however, are not the same so they tested different flavonols to determine which has the best antiobesity and antidiabetic properties.

"Little is known regarding how different cocoa flavanols contribute to inhibition of obesity and type-2 diabetes," the researchers wrote." The objective of this study was to compare the impacts of long-term dietary exposure to cocoa flavanol monomers, oligomers, and polymers on the effects of high-fat feeding."

The researchers gave the mice a high fat diet with different types of flavonol for 12 weeks. They observed that by supplementing the diet of the mice with a compound from dark chocolate known as oligomeric procyanidins (PCs), the mice kept their weight down regardless that they were on a high-fat diet.

The researchers have likewise observed that the compound improved glucose tolerance and this could have an impact in the prevention of type-2 diabetes, a condition prevalent in the United States that is known to lead to heart attacks, strokes, kidney failure and blindness if not treated.

"Oligomeric PCs appear to possess the greatest antiobesity and antidiabetic bioactivities of the flavanols in cocoa, particularly at the low doses employed for the present study," the researchers said.

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