Chocolate is often considered a guilty pleasure. But science is standing up for our old friend, rebuffing the stereotype that chocolate is all guilt, and proving that health, not pleasure, may be the best reason to eat up.
The cocao bean, cultivated for over three millennia, gifts humans with not only the sweet taste of chocolate, but also-shockingly-health benefits because of its flavonal-rich properties. A new study published in the Journal of Nutrition found that incorporating flavonol-rich cocao into a healthy diet can significantly lower the incidence of type 2 diabetes, a largely preventable disease. Over 11 years, the study examined the diet of almost 3,000 men and women. The study concluded that for every 2.5 increase in dietary flavonols, the incidence of type 2 diabetes fell by over a quarter.
But don’t go running for the candy aisle just yet. These findings show that flavonol-rich cocao, as found in dark chocolate, has health benefits, but chocolate high in fat, sugar, and calories is counterproductive. For the best source of flavonol, try using a cocao supplement, which can deliver the equivalent flavonol of 33 bars of milk chocolate or 8 bars of dark chocolate.
Whether in food or capsule form, it’s nice to know that our sweet-tooth ally may not be our downfall, but maybe our hero.