Cocoa Compound May Combat Diabetes

A major component in chocolate, or cocoa, can help fight type 2 diabetes, according to research done at Brigham Young University. Researchers isolated a compound in cocoa, called epicatechin monomers, that helps push certain cells into becoming insulin powerhouses.

The researchers placed mice on a high-fat diet and gave them the cocoa compound epicatechin monomers. They found that the compound not only helped the mice better deal with elevated blood glucose levels, but also helped them maintain weight when compared to mice who were not given the compound.

The cocoa compound helps beta cells secrete both insulin and the Amylin hormone.

When there is a spike in glucose, the beta cells within a healthy person's pancreas will release insulin to regulate blood sugar levels. They also secrete Amylin, a hormone that blocks glucose from entering the blood stream. In a type 2 diabetic, these beta cells malfunction and don't secrete enough of either substance.

The BYU researchers found that the cocoa compound epicatechin monomers help the pancreas' beta cells by protecting them against oxidative stress.

"What happens is it's protecting the cells, it's increasing their ability to deal with oxidative stress," said study author Jeffery Tessem, assistant professor of nutrition, dietetics and food science at BYU. "The epicatechin monomers are making the mitochondria in the beta cells stronger, which produces more ATP, which then results in more insulin being released."

Obviously, however, eating a lot of chocolate is no proof against diabetes. The researchers point out that it's not chocolate itself, but cocoa and even then it's only a simple compound of that cocoa which is responsible for the effects. The findings may lead to new supplements that could be useful for those in danger of diabetes or in pre-diabetes. The research team plans to continue study of the compound.

Source: NewAtlas
Source (including photo): BYU

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