WASHINGTON, Oct. 12, 2007 For the first time, scientists have linked the all-too-human preference for a food chocolate to a specific, chemical signature that may be programmed into the metabolic system and is detectable by laboratory tests. The signature reads chocolate lover in some people and indifference to the popular sweet in others, the researchers say.
The study by Swiss and British scientists breaks new ground in a rapidly emerging field that may eventually classify individuals on the basis of their metabolic type, or metabotype, which can ultimately be used to design healthier diets that are customized to an individuals needs. The study is scheduled for publication in the Nov. 2 issue of American Chemical Societys Journal of Proteome Research, a monthly publication.
Sunil Kochhar and colleagues studied 11 volunteers who classified themselves as chocolate desiring and 11 volunteers who were chocolate indifferent. In a controlled clinical study, each subject all men ate chocolate or placebo over a five day period while their blood and urine samples were analyzed. The chocolate lovers had a hallmark metabolic profile that involved low levels of LDL-cholesterol (so-called bad cholesterol) and marginally elevated levels of albumin, a beneficial protein, the scientists say.
The chocolate lovers expressed this profile even when they ate no chocolate, the researchers note. The activity of the gut microbes in the chocolate lovers was also distinctively different from the other subjects, they add.
Our study shows that food preferences, including chocolate, might be programmed or imprinted into our metabolic system in such a way that the body becomes attuned to a particular diet, says Kochhar, a scientist with Nestl Research Center in Switzerland.
We know that some people can eat a diet that is high in steak and carbs and generally remain healthy, while the same food in others is unhealthy, he explains. Knowing
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American Chemical Society