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Chocolate as effective as exercise

Chocolate as effective as exercise Stimulates muscle response, study finds

If your idea of exercise is reaching for the chocolate box, you may be onto something.

Research conducted on mice in the US found that a compound in chocolate called epicatechin appears to stimulate the same muscle response as exercise.

Study leader Moh Malek, of Wayne State University, said: "Mitochondria produce energy which is used by the cells in the body. More mitochondria mean more energy is produced, the more work can be performed.

"Aerobic exercise, such as running or cycling, is known to increase the number of mitochondria in muscle cells. Our study has found that epicatechin seems to bring about the same response - particularly in the heart and skeletal muscles."

In the study, epicatechin was given to mice twice a day for 15 days. Other mice were exercised for 30 minutes on a treadmill daily.

Researchers found that mice that were fed epicatechin had the same exercise performance as those that had been running daily.

Dr Malek said middle-aged mice who both exercised and ate epicatechin showed an even greater benefit.

''Applying what we know about epicatechin's ability to boost mitochondria numbers may provide an approach to reduce the effects of muscle ageing,'' Dr Malek said.

The research was published in the Journal of Physiology.

This article was published on Thu 15 September 2011

Image © David Wagner - Fotolia.com

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