London: Chocoholics, rejoice! Consumption of a small amount of chocolate each day may help prevent diabetes and insulin resistance, a new study has claimed.
Researchers who analysed data of 1,153 people aged 18-69 years found that those who ate 100 grammes of chocolate a day - equivalent to a bar - had reduced insulin resistance and improved liver enzymes.
Insulin resistance is a well-established risk factor to cardiovascular disease, researchers said.
They hypothesised that chocolate consumption may have a beneficial effect on insulin sensitivity and liver enzymes and therefore decided to analyse a national sample of adults, taking into account lifestyle and dietary factors, including the simultaneous consumption of tea and coffee.
This is because both drinks can be high in polyphenol, the substance which may provide chocolate with its beneficial cardiometabolic effects, researchers said.
"Given the growing body of evidence, including our own study, cocoa-based products may represent an additional dietary recommendation to improve cardio-metabolic health; however, observational results need to be supported by robust trial evidence," said Saverio Stranges from University of Warwick in the UK.
"Potential applications of this knowledge include recommendations by healthcare professionals to encourage individuals to consume a wide range of phytochemical-rich foods, which can include dark chocolate in moderate amounts," said Stranges.
"However, it is important to differentiate between the natural product cocoa and the processed product chocolate, which is an energy-dense food," he added.
More than 80 per cent of participants claimed to eat an average of 24.8 grams of chocolate a day.
The study also found that those who claimed to eat chocolate were younger, more physically active and had higher levels of education than those who claimed not to eat chocolate on a daily basis.
"It is also possible that chocolate consumption may represent an overall marker for a cluster of favourable socio-demographic profiles, healthier lifestyle behaviours and better health status," said Alaa Alkerwi from Luxembourg Institute of Health.
"This could explain, at least in part, the observed inverse associations with insulin and liver biomarkers," said Alkerwi.
The findings were published in the British Journal of Nutrition.