As strange as it may seem, the answer to the question is, according to the latest scientific research, yes, it can. But the chocolate has to be dark with, at least, 70% cocoa content. This beneficial effect is due indeed to the flavonoids, antioxidant substances present in cocoa that play a protective role on the cells and their functionalities, as suggested by two scientific researches performed a few months apart and by two different teams, one from the Brigham Young University, USA (Rowley et al, JNB, Nov 2017) and the other in collaboration between Mexican, Canadian and US scientists (Leyva-Soto et al, Molecules, Sep 2018), but able to reach similar conclusions.
The scientists have observed, in particular, that the intake of 2 grams of dark chocolate for 6 months has been able to lower the levels of total cholesterol, LDL cholesterol, triglycerides, blood sugar and even to reduce the waist line. The explanation seems to be the role played by the flavonoids, such as, for example, the catechins, in protecting the DNA from damages thus improving the cell functioning. Moreover, for what concerns the prevention of diabetes, the scientists have observed that the antioxidants of cocoa are able to strengthen the beta cells by helping them counteract oxidative stress. The beta cells are a type of cell responsible for the insulin production and their malfunction may cause conditions such as type 2 diabetes. Well, the catechins of cocoa seem to be able to support these cells, to fortify the mitochondria that in this way produce more ATP, namely the cell energy source, with the result of a higher production of insulin and the possibility to maintain more stable the levels of sugar in blood.
For this reason, green light to chocolate Easter eggs, but prepared with dark chocolate! Finally, a consideration, the same protective effect isn’t obtained with milk chocolate because the milk proteins deactivate the antioxidants of cocoa.