WASHINGTON, Aug 30 — Researchers have found compounds in chocolate that could help prevent and treat type-2 diabetes.
Beta cells inside the islet of Langerhans in the pancreas are responsible for secreting insulin, the hormone that regulates blood sugar levels. In someone suffering from type 2 diabetes, the beta cells malfunction and produce insufficient levels of insulin.
Researchers at Brigham Young University have discovered that compounds found naturally in cocoa called epicatechin monomers are able to increase the ability of beta cells to secrete insulin.
The team said the compound successfully helped mice on a high-fat diet to cope with elevated blood sugar levels as well as decrease the extent of their obesity.
“What happens is it’s protecting the cells, it’s increasing their ability to deal with oxidative stress,” study author Jeffery Tessem, assistant professor of nutrition, dietetics and food science at BYU said in a press release. “The epicatechin monomers are making the mitochondria in the beta cells stronger, which produces more ATP (a cell’s energy source), which then results in more insulin being released.”
The team are looking for ways to extract the compound out of cocoa in order to make a treatment for current diabetes patients and advise people not to stock up on chocolate bars.
“You probably have to eat a lot of cocoa, and you probably don’t want it to have a lot of sugar in it,” said Tessem. “It’s the compound in cocoa you’re after.” — Reuters