Scientists from the Nestlé Research Center in Lausanne, Switzerland, in collaboration with scientists at Loughborough University, Britain’s leading sports science institute, set out to discover potential benefits of dark chocolate for healthy people that enjoy an active lifestyle. The full article contribution is available in the International Journal of Sport Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism.
Chocolate consumption, as part of a balanced diet, is a source of pleasure for countless people worldwide. Given its popularity and widespread consumption, finding possible health benefits of dark chocolate, which is rich in polyphenols, is good news for chocolate lovers. Scientists at Loughborough University teamed up with the Nestlé Research Center to investigate the potential benefits of daily dark chocolate consumption for those regularly engaging in sport.
Twenty active men consumed either 70% cocoa dark chocolate (40 g twice daily) or a control chocolate (matched in fat and carbohydrate content but containing no cocoa liquor) for two consecutive weeks as a replacement for their regular snacks and to maintain normal calorie intake. At the end of the two weeks, they cycled for 1.5 hours at medium-high intensity, followed by a time to exhaustion trial. Following the exercise bout, blood samples were taken to measure key markers of oxidative stress and nutrient utilization.
Interestingly, results showed that dark chocolate lowered the oxidative stress generated by exercise, without affecting volunteers’ overall performance. Additionally, with two weeks consumption of dark chocolate before exercise, there was increased free fatty acid mobilization. This suggests that consumption of dark chocolate (compared to the control chocolate) leads to increased utilization of fat, rather than carbohydrates during exercise. The overall findings indicate that dark chocolate can be an effective part of a balanced diet for healthy, active people.
“Dark chocolate can be a snack alternative for people regularly participating in sport as it provides an efficient energy source and potentially counteracts the free radicals generated during prolonged exercise,” said Dr. Karen Cooper, Nestlé researcher leading the study. “These results add to the mounting evidence about the numerous beneficial effects of cocoa.”
Allgrove J, Farrell E, Gleeson M, Williamson G, Cooper K. Regular dark chocolate consumption reduces oxidative stress and increases free fatty acid mobilization in response to prolonged cycling. Int J of Sport Nutr and Ex Met. Published online ahead of print Jan 2011.
International Journal of Sport Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism.
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