A recent study has purportedly found that mice fed a high-fat diet supplemented with cocoa powder exhibited fewer indicators of obesity-related inflammation and insulin resistance than mice raised on the high-fat diet alone. Yeyi Gu, et al., “Dietary cocoa ameliorates obesity-related inflammation in high fat-fed mice,” European Journal of Nutrition, June 2013. According to a June 13, 2013, Penn State press release, the results evidently showed that for mice eating “the human equivalent of 10 tablespoons of cocoa powder—about four or five cups of hot cocoa—during a 10-week period,” cocoa supplementation (i) “significantly reduced the rate of body weight gain,” (ii) “attenuated insulin resistance,” (iii) “reduced the severity of obesity-related fatty liver disease,” (iv) “significantly decreased plasma levels of the pro-inflammatory mediators interleukin-6 [and] monocyte chemoattractant protein-1,” and (vi) reduced the expression of pro-inflammatory genes “in the stromal vascular fraction (SVF) of the epididymal white adipose tissue.”

“What surprised me was the magnitude of the effect,” the lead author said of the findings. “There wasn’t as big of an effect on the body weight as we expected, but I was surprised at the dramatic reduction of inflammation and fatty liver disease… Most obesity researchers tend to steer clear of chocolate because it is high in fat, high in sugar and is usually considered an indulgence. However, cocoa powder is low in fat and low in sugar. We looked at cocoa because it contains a lot of polyphenolic compounds, so it is analogous to things like green tea and wine, which researchers have been studying for some of their health benefits.”