London: Dark chocolates may help diabetics
control their dangerously high cholesterol levels, a new study has claimed.
Researchers at the University of Hull in UK found that polyphenol, an ingredient found in chocolates with high levels
of cocoa solids, cuts cholesterol levels in a small number of diabetics.
High cholesterol levels are a particular problem for many diabetics and are linked strongly to an increased risk of heart
disease. Past studies have also suggested the substance can reduce the risk of heart disease, the BBC reported.
In the new study, researchers tested the theory that chemicals found in cocoa beans could influence cholesterol.
A total of 12 volunteers with the type II diabetes were given identical chocolate bars, some enriched with polyphenols, over a 16 week period.
Those given the enriched bars experienced a small improvement in their overall cholesterol "profile", with total
cholesterol falling and levels of so-called "good" cholesterol rising.
Professor Steve Atkin, who led the study, suggested that it could mean a reduction in heart risk.
"Chocolate with a high cocoa content should be included in the diet of individuals with type II diabetes as part of a sensible, balanced approach to diet and lifestyle," he said.
However, there were some concerns from experts at Diabetes UK - a leading health charity in UK - that the message would be interpreted as a "green light" to eat more
They pointed out that even bars with the highest levels of cocoa solids would contain high levels of fat and sugar,
and could end up doing more harm than good.
Regular bars of two of the UK`s best selling varieties of dark chocolate each contain more than 200 calories and up to
16 grams of fat.
Dr Iain Frame, director of research at Diabetes UK, said he was unconvinced by the new study, published the journal
"On no account should people take away the message from this study, conducted in only 12 people, that eating even a small amount of dark chocolate is going to help reduce their cholesterol levels.
"The tiny health benefit of this compound found in cocoa-rich chocolate would be hugely outweighed by the fat and
"The design of the study is also somewhat unrealistic as they asked participants to eat only around half the size of a normal, dark chocolate bar every day for eight weeks.
"It would, however, be interesting to see if further research could find a way of testing whether polyphenols could be added to foods which weren`t high in sugar and saturated fat such as chocolate," Dr Frame said.