London: Do you hate getting up early everyday to work out at a gym? Here’s good news for you – just indulge in some delicious dark chocolate.
US scientists have found that eating small amounts of dark chocolate improves health in the same way as doing exercise.
They also found that when small doses were eaten in combination with regular exercise, performance was boosted by 50 percent.
Researchers at the Wayne State University, Detroit, Michigan, found that a plant compound in chocolate called epicatechin stimulates muscle growth in a similar way to vigorous activity such as jogging.
In tests on mice, they found the compound made them produce more mitochondria – the tiny ‘batteries’ which power the cells in our body, and increased the number of capillaries, which ferry oxygen to the muscles.
In the study, middle-aged mice were divided into three groups. One was given a type of epicatechin from cocoa twice a day for 15 days, another had epicatechin and 30 minutes on the treadmill every day. A third group did the exercise but without taking the extract.
“Aerobic exercise, such as running or cycling, is known to increase the number of mitochondria in muscle cells,” the Daily Mail quoted Dr Moh Malek as saying.
“Our study has found that epicatechin seems to bring about the same response – particularly in the heart and skeletal muscles,” he added.
They hope the same effect may apply in humans.