New York: Love to gorge on dark chocolates? According to a study, compounds found in cocoa-the main ingredient of chocolate-can actually help prevent as well as treat diabetes.
The findings showed that cocoa compound named epicatechin monomers helps the body release more insulin and responds to increased blood glucose better.
When a person has diabetes, their body either does not produce enough insulin or does not process blood sugar properly, because of the failure of beta cells, which produce insulin.
However, the study found that the increased presence of epicatechin monomers helped beta cells to remain stronger as well as enhanced their ability to secrete insulin.
"What happens is epicatechin monomers is protecting the cells, increasing their ability to deal with oxidative stress," said lead author Jeffery Tessem, assistant professor at Brigham Young University (BYU), US.
"The epicatechin monomers are making the mitochondria in the beta cells stronger, which produces more ATP (a cell's energy source), which then results in more insulin being released," Tessem added.
For the study, published in the Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry, the team first fed the cocoa compound to animals on a high-fat diet.
The results showed that by adding it to the high-fat diet, the compound would decrease the level of obesity in the animals and would increase their ability to deal with increased blood glucose levels.
"These results will help us get closer to using these compounds more effectively in foods or supplements to maintain normal blood glucose control and potentially even delay or prevent the onset of Type-2 diabetes," said study co-author Andrew Neilson, assistant professor at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University.