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Study Suggests Compounds Found in Cocoa May Help With Weight Loss

Chocolate consumption is usually associated with weight gain. However, two recent studies suggest that two compounds found in cocoa, epicatechin and procyanidin, may reduce the amount that people eat by almost 20% and possibly help with appetite and weight management.

Participants in the first study included 28 healthy, young-adult men. The men consumed one of the following; a non-alkalized cocoa mixture that contained 0.6 mg/kg of epicatechin and 2.9 mg/kg of procyanidins; an alkalized cocoa mixture containing no compounds, which acted as a placebo; 1.0 mg per kg of body weight of epicatechin, plus the placebo beverage; or the placebo beverage plus 6.6 mg per kg of procyanidins. Procyanidins are a type of flavonoid formed from catechin and epicatechin molecules.

The researchers found that there was no difference between the groups when the men were instructed to eat pizza until they were full, 2.5 hours after consuming their beverage. However, a smaller study that included 14 participants tested higher doses of epicatechin and procyanidins (1.6 mg and 10.3 mg/kg respectively). The higher doses resulted in an 18.7% reduction in pizza intake.

Researchers from Brooklyn College conducted the study. It was published on August 10, 2016, in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

Previous studies have shown that dark chocolate may help improve heart health and insulin resistance, and reduce blood pressure. To get the full health benefits of chocolate, consume darker chocolates, which contain more epicatechin and procyanidins, as well as other flavonoids.

It’s important to keep in mind that excessive consumption of chocolate could negate the positive effects seen here and in other studies, as chocolate also has high fat, sugar, and calorie content. Your best bet is to eat small amounts of dark chocolate with high cocoa content or to consume the flavonoids in a beverage, as was done in these studies.

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