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Dark Chocolate is as Good for You as a Gym Session (if You Are a Mouse)

Posted on the 15 September 2011 by Periscope @periscopepost

Dark chocolate is as good for you as a gym session (if you are a mouse)

This mouse would probably have bigger guns if it ate more dark chocolate. Photo credit: pshab

A moderate amount of high-quality dark chocolate could be as good for you as a session in the gym (or at least it is for mice). Researchers at Dwayne State University in Detroit experimented on three groups of the animals: one was given epitachecin – a chemical derived from cocoa – three times a day, another received the same as well as 30 minutes on a treadmill, while a third did the exercise without taking the extract. A rise in the number of energy producing mitochondria – normally a by-product of getting a sweat on – was noted in the mice that only ate the cocoa-extract.

According to research leader Dr Moh Mahlek: “Those getting only epicatechin had a significantly better muscle performance and took longer to tire than those that only exercised. The group doing both showed even greater improvement, so it appears epicatechin combined with exercise may be a viable means to offset muscle ageing.”

Press headlines have reduced the study to a sound-bite, suggesting that a bite of dark chocolate could beef up your wimpy biceps and saggy triceps. However, nowhere did the study actually say, as the headlines of The Daily Mirror and The Daily Telegraph cried out, that dark chocolate is “as good for your health as exercise”. It is as good for the health of mice as exercise. Unless you are a mouse the same does not necessarily hold true for you. Dr Mahlek said, “it would be a leap of faith to say the same effects would be seen in humans”. The results of the experiment will soon be published in The Journal of Physiology.

  • Chocolate heaven. In The Daily Mirror, a Cadburys’ spokesperson clucked with glee at the announcement: “This seems to show that a little bit of what you fancy really can do you good.” On Twitter, Netmums purred: “A headline that is music to our ears : ) ‘Chocolate as good for you as exercise’.
  • 100 percent cocoa is almost inedible. One savvy commenter on The Daily Mail forum pointed out that cocoa in high concentration, the sort they used in the experiment, really isn’t the same as a bar of Cadburys Dairy Milk from the corner shop. “Try tasting 100% pure chocolate … e.g. in the form of cocoa powder. It is awful. Basically, that is what chocolate should taste like. People aren’t enjoying the chocolate, they are enjoying the 5% or 10% or 40% of sugar that is added to it to make it palatable. Stop being conned.”

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