US researchers have discovered that a flavonoid found in dark chocolate could help patients with advanced heart failure and type 2 diabetes. The study, led by Dr Francisco J Villarreal of the University of California, San Diego, focused on the effects of epicatechin-enriched cocoa.

The five patients involved in the trial had suffered major damage to skeletal muscle mitochondria, the structures responsible for most of the energy produced in cells. These ‘fuel cells’ are dysfunctional as a result of both type 2 diabetes and heart failure, leading to abnormalities in skeletal muscle.

After three months of consuming dark chocolate bars and a beverage containing 100mg of epicatechin, the patients showed improved results in their skeletal muscle mitochondria. The results were published in the journal Clinical and Translational Science.