Eating foods flavored with cocoa powder, as opposed to other flavorings, stimulates greater production of the sugar-processing hormone insulin, Australian scientists report. An excess of insulin, which helps cells extract glucose from the bloodstream, could depress blood sugar concentrations and stimulate appetite. On the other hand, the new observation could reflect a rapid, healthy response to food intake.
Jennie Brand-Miller of the University of Sydney and her colleagues fed snacks of breakfast cereal, cake, candy, ice cream, milk, and pudding to 11 lean young adults. One version of each food item contained cocoa powder, and the other had an alternative flavoring, such as vanilla or strawberry. The team measured concentrations of insulin and glucose in blood samples drawn from the volunteers just before and within 2 hours after each snack.
Chocolate-flavored foods increased insulin concentrations by 28 percent more, on average, than did the same snack with a different flavor, the researchers report in the October Journal of Nutrition.
For each snack, both versions caused similar spikes in blood-glucose concentrations, indicating that sugar or starch content was not responsible for the foods’ different influences on insulin production.
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