Chocolate as Good as Exercise
Better still, when small amounts were eaten in combination with exercise, performance was boosted by 50 per cent. They found that the compound caused mice to produce more mitochondria, in turn increasing the number of capillaries that carry oxygen around the body and therefore increasing energy levels. 'Aerobic exercise, such as running or cycling, is known to increase the number of mitochondria in muscle cells,' says Dr Moh Malek from Wayne State University, Detroit.
'Our study has found that epicatechin seems to bring about the same response - particularly in the heart and skeletal muscles.' The scientists hope the same effect may apply to humans and that the ingredients in every girl's favourite comfort food could be used as a basis for treatments for muscle wastage. 'It appears epicatechin treatment, combined with exercise, could be a viable means to offset muscle ageing,' says Dr Malek. '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.'