Chocolate as Good as Exercise

Dark chocolate boosts cell mitochondria, researchers find

By Mary Papenfuss,  Newser Staff

Posted Sep 16, 2011 3:34 AM CDT | Updated Sep 16, 2011 5:55 AM CDT

(Newser) – Some scientists are good enough to eat—like the ones who just published a study saying munching on dark chocolate is as valuable for health as exercise. Researchers have found that a compound found in chocolate—epicatechin—seems to trigger the same muscle response as vigorous activity. ''Aerobic exercise, such as running or cycling, is known to increase the number of mitochondria in muscle cells," said the lead researcher, referring to the powerhouses in cells that generate energy. "Our study has found that epicatechin seems to bring about the same response—particularly in the heart and skeletal muscles.''

Mice fed only epicatechin showed the same mitochondria effects as mice who exercised 30 minutes a day on a treadmill in the Wayne State University study, reports the Telegraph. But, bad news for dedicated couch potatoes, mice fed epicatechin that also ran on the treadmill fared best. "Epicatechin treatment combined with exercise could be a viable means to offset muscle ageing,'' said the chief researcher. "At the moment it would be a leap of faith to say the same effects would be seen in humans. But it is something we hope to identify in future studies.'' (Click to read about another wonder-food.)

Small amounts of dark chocolate increase energy-producing mitochondria in mice, scientists have found.   (Flickr)
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