Can cocoa help prevent weight gain?

A new study shows that cocoa may help prevent weight gain lower the risk of Type 2 Diabetes

A new study published in the Journal of Agriculture and Food Chemistry has found that cocoa may help to prevent weight gain and reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes.

In the recent 12 week trial carried out on mice, researchers compared the effects of a low fat diet, a high fat diet and high fat diets supplemented with cocoa extract or cocoa fractions (monomers, oligomers or polymers) on parameters of weight and glucose and insulin tolerance.

The researchers found that the mice fed the high fat diet and supplemented with cocoa oligomers gained a similar amount of weight to the mice fed the low fat diet without supplementation. 

They gained far less than the control group fed the high fat diet, and this combination was also the most effective at improving glucose tolerance and insulin resistance, conferring possible protection against type 2 diabetes.

The researchers commented:

“Oligomeric procyanidins appear to possess the greatest anti-obesity and anti-diabetic bioactivities of the flavanols in cocoa, particularly at the low doses employed for the present study.”

The researchers were keen to note however that it is too soon to draw a link with dark chocolate consumption despite sensationalist headlines in the media suggesting otherwise.

“The important thing to note is we studied cocoa.  We have no data to indicate what the effect of chocolate would be, since the sugar and fat and added calories pose a real problem in terms of obesity and diabetes. 

We are not trying to show that people should go out and eat more chocolate.  We think that cocoa in other forms (nibs) would be the best way to get these compounds whilst minimizing added sugar, fat and calories.”


Neilson et al. “Oligomeric cocoa procyanidins possess enhanced bioactivity compared to monomeric and polymeric cocoa procyanidins for preventing the development of obesity, insulin resistance and impaired glucose tolerance during high-fat feeding.” J Agric Food Chem. 2014, 62 (10). Pp. 2216-2227 DOI: 10.1021/jf500333y

My comment:

A couple of squares of dark (85%) organic chocolate a day can satisfy a craving for chocolate without adding too much of a sugar hit, especially if consumed after a main meal.  Raw cocoa nibs (as mentioned in the study) can be great when added to smoothies or in baking.

Chocolate is also high in magnesium which is great for cardiovascular health...but not the sugary, creamy varieties....and everything in moderation :-)


Posted: Apr 23, 2014