Scientists may have discovered more reasons to love chocolate.
You read that right… chocolate.
And all I can say is hallelujah… because dark chocolate is one of my favorite treats!
A new study has demonstrated the power of three compounds found in cocoa shells to not only reverse two major health problems that come along with extra weight — chronic inflammation and insulin resistance — but to also transform body fat into the fast-burning kind…
The key is in the proanthocyanidins, phenolic acids and catechins
We hear a lot about mitochondria these days — those little powerhouses in each and every cell that burn fat and glucose to generate energy.
But did you know that your mitochondria can be damaged by high levels of fat, blood sugar and inflammation — factors that all lead straight to diabetes?
Since phenolic compounds (chemicals naturally found in plants, like fresh fruits and vegetables) have been shown to have anti-inflammatory effects, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign decided to test three of these bioactive chemicals to see if they had the power to block or reduce the damage to adipocyte (or white fat) cells’ mitochondria and prevent insulin resistance.
The three the scientists tested were protocatechuic acid, epicatechin and procyanidin B2 — from the shells of the cocoa bean — and the results were even better than the scientists expected…
Powerful effects on fat and immune cells
When the team treated the white fat cells of mice with any of the three compounds, damaged mitochondria in the cells were repaired and less fat accumulated in the cells, blocking inflammation and restoring the cells’ insulin sensitivity.
Essentially, a path to type 2 diabetes was reversed!
But, as an added bonus, the fat cells also underwent a process called browning, where they transformed from white fat to beige fat — a type of fat that burns calories more efficiently.
This means that not only could the phenolic compounds be major players in helping keep diabetes at bay, they could also help cut down on body fat.
How to get more potent phenol sources into your diet
Besides cocoa, you can also get phenolic compounds from several other dietary sources, including green tea and coffee.
And, undoubtedly some of the most common phenolic food sources, especially proanthocyanidins and phenolic acids, are fruits. Remember, the cocoa bean is the fruit of the cacao tree.
So, to get your fill, seek out fruits from this list that are rich in phenolic compounds include:
• Black currants
• Black plums
You can also get a hefty dose of the fruits that deliver those needed phenols in supplement form.
Vegetables that put more phenolic compounds in your diet are yams, Brussels sprouts, broccoli and dark, leafy greens, like kale.
Science may have just given us an easy way to defeat diabetes and slim down all in one. And I for one am taking advantage of it. If you plan to as well, be sure to get plenty of phenolic compounds in your diet from fruits, veggies, green tea, coffee and yes… chocolate!