Researchers in Italy seem to have heard my prayers. They have uncovered further evidence that chocolate promotes good health -- even better, that eating dark chocolate regularly improves insulin response. Results published in the March issue of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition show that study participants' blood pressure decreased, and they showed improvements in insulin sensitivity, meaning they were better able to metabolize glucose (sugar). Fab!
OK, now for the disclaimers: the University of L'Aquila, Italy, study consisted of just fifteen (yes, 15) participants, and these were all healthy people, i.e. no diabetics on board. Diabetes in Control, a site for health care professionals, also warns that it is dark chocolate and not white chocolate that contains the health-promoting flavanols and procyanidins. I can live with that. They also warn that new findings are no excuse to gorge on chocolate. OK, OK, duly noted... But it sure is nice to know that that some good things are also good for you!
Perhaps the most interesting tidbit here was learning that scientists working for Mars, Inc., "the world leader in cocoa science," have been studying the health benefits of chocolate for at least 15 years. They've developed a method to determine the amount and type of flavanols found in various foods, and a database to store this info, featuring a special table comparing different cocoas and chocolates.
Happily for Mars, their CocoaVia® Bar, Dove® Dark Chocolate and Cocoapro® cocoa powder apparently rank much higher in flavanol content than most competitors. That's because they're using "patented and proprietary methods of processing cocoa beans to retain as much of their naturally occurring flavanols as possible." Really! More fascinating chocolate-health trivia awaits at www.chocolateinfo.com and www.cocoapro.com.