Adding to the increasing body of evidence that suggests chocolate may be beneficial to the health comes new research that reveals this 'ultimate temptation' may help fight off cancer and heart disease, and, with a certain irony, might be effective as an appetite-suppressant.
Researchers at University College's Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, London have demonstrated that bioactive nutrients in chocolate and other foods can oppose the growth of cancer cells and also work against blood clots which can cause heart disease.
The research focused on a body enzyme that plays a role in the behaviour of cells and that also affects inflammation. Compounds in chocolate, mainly caffeine and theophylline, have been shown to alter the enzyme's activity, therefore helping to block cell growth and blood clotting.
Findings were published in the latest issue of the Journal of Biological Chemistry.
In Colorado, dietitian Brett Hall recommends chocolate as the 'perfect solution' to help satisfy hunger pangs for persons who are dieting, cutting down on the size of their meals, and left feeling hungry and dissatisfied.
"What you need," said Hall, "is something that will not only satisfy you on a sensory and emotional level, but on a physiological level as well. And a small chunk of chocolate fulfills all those needs."
Chocolate contains mainly cocoa, which has a variety of bioactive nutrients including theobromine, theophylline and caffeine. The compounds have potent appetite-suppressing effects, acting on the central nervous system to help decrease appetite and make a person feel "full," Hall added.
"So after you finish your smaller meals, if you're still feeling a bit deprived, have a nice but small piece of chocolate, preferably dark because it's lower in sugar and has more cocoa," he concluded.