Chocolate is clearly one of the most enjoyed foods on the planet, and has one of the oldest documented histories of use going back to 1100 BC. And yet many still harbor guilt about consuming it because they associate it with “candy” and have never been exposed to the research indicating it may actually be closer to a “medicine.”
Now, new research from the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition has revealed that the consumption of chocolate, or its active constituents (cocoa, flavan-3-ols), reduces a broad range of risk factors for cardiovascular disease including insulin resistance. The researchers looked at 42 acute and long-term studies and found a 33% median reduction in insulin resistance following chocolate consumption. What is so unique about this new study is that chocolate consumption is generally believed to elevate blood sugar and blood insulin levels; not only does it disprove this myth but it sheds additional light on why chocolate consumption (especially dark, organic) may be beneficial in both type 1 and type 2 diabetes.
This comes in the wake of over a decade worth of research showing that chocolate and/or cocoa lowers blood pressure, prevents or ameliorates endothelial dysfunction (a primary contributor to atherosclerosis), protects against coronary artery disease, reduces stroke risk, prevents cholesterol oxidation (which converts healthy lipoproteins into artherogenic ones), to name only 5 of 70+ potential health benefits associated with its regular consumption.
Any serious discussion on the medicinal properties of chocolate should be qualified by pointing out that chocolate is often unfairly traded, and has even been linked to child enslavement. Non-organic cocoa may also contain residues of the dangerous herbicide glyphosate (the active ingredient in Roundup), among many other biocides used in conventional farming, so the consumer must take special care to avoid these moral and physiological pitfalls. Also, because chocolate has complex pharmacologically active properties, it must be consumed in moderation, and with attention paid towards the tendency for using it to self-medicate, especially when the cocoa content is lower and the sugar content higher.
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