clear. Future experiments, he hopes, will tease out why one flavonol group impeded weight gain and the others did not. Do not hold your breath for a cocoa-based diet pill anytime soon, though. Cocoa’s biochemical impacts are “extremely complex,” he says.
Dr Neilson also points out that cocoa is not a chocolate bar, something whose added ingredients and processing reduce the number and type of flavonols, increase calories (cocoa itself has very few) and possibly change the response of gut bacteria to the cocoa.
“The evidence does not show that you can eat a chocolate bar every day and expect to improve your health,” he says. A few tablespoons of unsweetened cocoa powder sprinkled onto oatmeal or a handful of cocoa nibs — bits of the cacao bean, available at natural-food stores - would be better, he says.
- GRETCHEN REYNOLDS