Sunday, March 4, 2012

Chocolate restores 'energy factories' in the body

Patients suffering from type II diabetes or advanced heart failure often have trouble finding the energy for exercise. It is a result from their disease, which impairs the function of mitochondria, which are the energy factories inside cells. Especially muscle cells rely greatly on these cellular structures because of their energy requirement. Scientists from the University of California in San Diego have discovered a way to increase functionality of the mitochondria: a compound found in dark chocolate helps revive these energy facilities.

A group of patients suffering from either type II diabetes or heart failure were admitted to a clinical trial set up to investigate the effects of epicatechin, something that is present in dark chocolate. Over the course of three months, the patients were told to eat bars of dark chocolate, accompanied with a liquid substance which contains epicatechin. After the experiments, they found that mitochondria and the structures accompanying them increased in numbers. It is good news for those lacking energy for exercise due to their disease.

It is not the first time eating chocolate has been associated with health benefits. A previous study found that chocolate consumption is associated with a decrease in cardiovascular disease. Chocolate, the dark variety, is actually a mixture of a lot of chemical compounds. For several purposes, it can be regarded as a drug. Its contents primarily seem to be affecting the body's metabolism. Additionally, it is likely we will find new health effects of compounds found in chocolate.

The study performed by the University of California in San Diego further reinforces that consuming dark chocolate is beneficial for your health. However, it is probably not advisable to eat large quantities of it. Chocolate does not only contain elements that are beneficial for your health. Moderate consumption may be beneficial, but long term studies will need to provide proof for that. 

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