Cocoa consumption linked to lower inflammation levels: Study

A few cups of cocoa may help fight inflammation-related health conditions including diabetes, a new study, conducted by a team of researchers at the Pennsylvania State University, has revealed.

When mice that lived on high fat diets were given cocoa, they showed less obesity-related inflammation and its associated conditions, as compared to those were fed only high-fat diets, the study showed.

The mice were given cocoa in amounts proportionate to around 10 tablespoons of cocoa powder, equal to almost 4-5 cups of cocoa within a 10 week period.

"What surprised me was the magnitude of the effect," Joshua Lambert, associate professor of food science at the university said. "There wasn't as big of an effect on the body weight as we expected, but I was surprised at the dramatic reduction of inflammation and fatty liver disease."

The researchers used many indications to determine the levels of inflammation and detect diabetes in mice, and all of them proved to be considerably lower in mice who were fed cocoa, and almost similar to that of the mice who were fed low fat diets.

Lambert also claimed that the cocoa powder supplement reduced the liver triglyceride levels in mice by more than 32 percent. Lower triglyceride levels are linked to reduced risk of fatty liver disease, inflammation and diabetes.

What's more, the researchers also found that the cocoa supplementation in mice helped them decrease their rate of body weight gain, thereby slowing down obesity and other obesity-related conditions.

While chocolate has been blamed for weight gain and obesity, Lambert suggests a change in the perspective. "Most obesity researchers tend to steer clear of chocolate because it is high in fat, high in sugar and is usually considered an indulgence," Lambert said. "However, cocoa powder is low in fat and low in sugar. We looked at cocoa because it contains a lot of polyphenolic compounds, so it is analogous to things like green tea and wine, which researchers have been studying for some of their health benefits."

Further research may be needed to confirm the efficiency of cocoa in reducing obesity-related inflammation, Lambert said.

The findings of this study are now published in the European Journal of Nutrition. 

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