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2013-08-09

Should Diabetics & Heart Failure Patients Eat Chocolate?

Here's a quick post to send you off on your weekend. Type 2 diabetes (T2D) and heart failure (HF) are associated with high levels of skeletal muscle (SkM) oxidative stress (OS). Previously, health benefits attributed to flavonoids have been ascribed their antioxidant effects. However, for flavonoids with similar antioxidant potential, end-biological effects vary widely suggesting other mechanistic avenues for reducing OS. Decreases in OS may follow the modulation of key regulatory pathways including antioxidant levels (e.g. glutathione) and enzymes such as mitochondrial superoxide dismutase (SOD) and catalase.

Therefore, the researchers behind this new study examined OS-related alterations in SkM in T2D/HF patients (as compared vs. healthy controls) and evaluated the effects of three-month treatment with (-)-epicatechin-rich cocoa (ERC).

Results showed there were severe alterations in OS regulatory systems in T2D/HF SkM compared to healthy controls. Treatment with ERC induced recovery in glutathione levels and decreases in the nitrotyrosilation and carbonylation of proteins. With treatment, they also saw key transcriptional factors translocate into the nucleus leading to increases in SOD2 and catalase protein expression and activity levels. In other words, ERC altered the expression of genes associated with our intrinsic antioxidant capacity.

This backs up the latest research on "antioxidants" in that we're seeing their beneficial effects are actually due to modifying the expression of genes (a field of study called epigenetics), not necessarily their direct antioxidant properties. The other nice thing is, as long as you consume the "real" stuff (not the candy bars), chocolate is low in sugar so safe for diabetics.

But ultimately, this just gives me more reason to continue eating moderate amounts of dark chocolate...as if I didn't have enough reasons already.  :)

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Source: (-)-Epicatechin rich cocoa mediated modulation of oxidative stress regulators in skeletal muscle of heart failure and type 2 diabetes patients

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