Because everybody needs an excuse to eat more chocolate, new research has discovered that your all-time favorite food has some great health benefits. Namely, it could lower your risk of developing type two diabetes, as well as other major health issues. So what's the secret ingredient? Flavanoids, found in chocolate, tea, and berries.
"Our research looked at the benefits of eating certain sub-groups of flavanoids. We focused on flavones, which are found in herbs and vegetables such as parsley, thyme and celery, and anthocyanins, found in berries, red grapes, wine and other red or blue-colored fruits and vegetables," study leader Aedin Cassid said.
The study utilized 2,000 healthy women in the U.K., and researchers analyzed their self-reported answers. Published in the Journal of Nutrition, the study indicated that increased consumption of flavoids could increase women's long-term health, particularly when it came to bolstering glucose regulation and lowering insulin resistance. Both of these factors help stem obesity, cancer, and heart disease.
Oh, and fruit and vegetables are even better for you than previously thought: According to the study's results, "those who ate the most anthocyanins [found in berries and red or blue-colored vegetables] were the least likely to have chronic inflammation."
Plus, chocolate! "Those who consumed the most flavones were shown to have higher levels of a protein called adiponectic that aids in regulating metabolism, including the processing of glucose," wrote the study.
It's unclear how much chocolate, tea, and/or berries you'd need to consume to reap the health benefits, however: The link between flavanoids and health benefits remains tentative, though optimistic, warned the study's researchers. Plus, there's always a risk with self-reported studies, namely that the researchers can't independently verify the information.
But the findings anticipate plenty of studies yet to come. "This is one of the first large-scale human studies to look at how these powerful bioactive compounds might reduce the risk of diabetes." said Cassidy. "Laboratory studies have shown these types of foods might modulate blood glucose regulation – affecting the risk of type 2 diabetes. But until now, little has been know about how habitual intakes might affect insulin resistance, blood glucose regulation and inflammation in humans."