A diabetic eating chocolate may raise eyebrows amongst some people but within reason, chocolate needn’t be completely cut out of your diet.
In most cases, chocolate will cause blood sugar levels to rise and in light of this it’s best to limit chocolate consumption to small amounts and to avoid eating when blood sugars are already higher than the recommended blood glucose levels
- Is eating chocolate good or bad for you?
- How much chocolate should I eat?
- Which chocolate is best for me?
- Is diabetic chocolate better for my sugar levels?
- 5 Reasons Why Dark Chocolate Is Good for Diabetics
- Dark chocolates are good for diabetics! Time to celebrate it.
- Milk Products and Type 2 Diabetes
- The Evidence
- Potential Mechanisms
- The Best Ways to Enjoy Dark Chocolate When You Have Diabetes
- Why Dark Chocolate and Diabetes Make a Sweet Combination
- How to Pick a Good Dark Chocolate for Your Blood Sugar
- Diabetes-Friendly Ideas for Enjoying Dark Chocolate
- Diabetes and Dark Chocolate
- The health benefits of eating chocolate:
- Precautions when eating chocolate:
- Chocolate Recipes:
- Diabetic and Dark chocolate
- Why Dark Chocolate Is One of the Best Desserts for Diabetics
- How much chocolate should I eat?
- Which chocolate is best for me?
- Is diabetic chocolate better for my sugar levels?
- How to Pick a Good Dark Chocolate for Your Blood Sugar
- Look at the percentage of cocoa.
- Eye the sugar content to keep carb intake in check.
- Beware of any sugary extra ingredients.
- Consider opting for sugar-free cocoa powder or cacao nibs for a treat.
- Have a rich serving of dark chocolate — but limit the serving to about ¾ to 1 oz.
- Sprinkle cacao nibs on your yogurt.
- Add some cocoa powder to your morning shake.
- Choose artificially sweetened chocolate with care.
- Dark Chocolate and Diabetes: The Benefits of This Tasty Snack
Is eating chocolate good or bad for you?
Chocolate contains a number of beneficial nutrients, some of which called flavonoids are thought to guard against heart disease
However, it should be noted that larger quantities of chocolate can be disadvantageous to health in other ways.
If a larger amount of chocolate is consumed, it will raise blood sugars which increases the risk of complications, of which cardiovascular problems is one.
Secondly, the calorific content of chocolate is relatively high and therefore overconsumption of chocolate could lead to weight gain which also raises the risk of heart problems.
How much chocolate should I eat?
For most people with diabetes, chocolate is best restricted to a few squares to prevent too much of an increase in sugar levels
For people with diabetes without weight problems, chocolate can be appropriate to have before exercising
Yes, people with diabetes can eat chocolate. The main thing is to not get carried away. If you want to have chocolate, set yourself a limit before starting and then stick to the limit.
It’s really up to you and what you look for/enjoy.
Dark chocolate is probably the healthiest pick. It has high cocoa solids and a lower amount of carbs so it won’t affect your sugar levels as much as standard milk chocolate.
Milk chocolate tends to be more sugary than dark chocolate but some people prefer milk chocolate and if as long as you’re sticking to a limit, milk chocolate’s perfectly fine. On the plus side, milk chocolate tends to be a bit lower in fat than dark chocolate so the overall calorie content isn’t much different between the two.
Diabetic chocolate is chocolate that is made with ‘sugar alcohols’. The idea is that these forms of sugar have less of an effect on sugar levels. Don’t be tempted to eat too much though as they will affect sugar levels to some extent and they can have a laxative effect too. You’ll tend to find that either diabetic chocolate doesn’t taste so good or if it does taste as good, it will usually be more expensive.
So that’s my guide to diabetes and chocolate. The main points: yes, you can have chocolate; stick to a sensible limit on how much and eat whichever chocolate works best for you.
For more strenuous activity, however, even shorter acting carbohydrate may be required.
Which chocolate is best for me?
Chocolate with higher amounts of cocoa solids are best, as the sugar and fat content will often be lower as a result.
For high cocoa solids content, dark chocolate is usually a good pick.
Is diabetic chocolate better for my sugar levels?
Generally speaking, diabetic chocolate is made by replacing some or all of the sugar content with an alternative source of sweetener, such as the polyols (sugar alcohols ) maltitol and sorbitol.
Polyols can have laxative effects and therefore they should not be consumed in large quantities. The effect of polyols may vary from person to person.
Some people find diabetic chocolate to be beneficial compared with regular chocolate, however, many people with diabetes find diabetic chocolate to not have enough redeeming benefits
The charity Diabetes UK has campaigned to end the use of the term ‘diabetic’ with regards to food products.
Avoid eating chocolate while being distracted, such as when on the phone, in front of the television or while driving. You won’t truly enjoy your sweet treat if you are too focused on another task, which is certainly not worth the blood sugar spike.
3. Pair it with other flavorful foods
Another similarity between chocolate and wine is their ability to pair nicely with other foods. Eating chocolate with other nutrient-dense foods allows you to indulge your sweet tooth while filling up on more than just sugar.
Try eating dark chocolate pieces with fresh fruit and raw nuts or cheese. The fat and protein content in nuts and cheese can help to mitigate some of the effects on blood sugar from the chocolate and fruit.
4. Avoid total chocolate deprivation
The key to any healthy eating plan is to avoid total deprivation of any one food or food group. This is true for chocolate, too. Don’t deprive yourself! The biggest mistake my clients make when attempting to eat healthier is swearing off all of their favorite indulgent foods. Avoiding chocolate altogether if you love chocolate is a surefire way to find yourself over-eating it at your next opportunity when willpower dwindles.
Make room for your chocolate indulgences and choose them wisely. Planning to have a piece of chocolate after dinner? It’s probably good to skip the glass of wine and save it for another night. Try also to focus on eating a healthy dinner rich in lean proteins and veggies to get in some valuable nutrients to keep blood sugars stabilized before snacking on a sugary treat.
5. Time your treats appropriately
When attempting to keep blood glucose stable, timing is everything. Eating chocolate on an empty stomach may shoot blood sugars higher and faster than if eaten after a meal or with another snack.
It’s also a good idea to avoid eating chocolate right before bedtime. Chocolate contains a moderate level of caffeine that can keep you up at night.
Need a pick-me-up in the morning? Try adding unsweetened, raw cocoa powder to a smoothie with fiber-rich fruits like cherries or berries and plain Greek yogurt. The cocoa powder will boost your energy and gives you the feeling of indulging during the most important meal of the day!
5 Reasons Why Dark Chocolate Is Good for Diabetics
Dark chocolates are good for diabetics! Time to celebrate it.
The rising number of diabetes cases aside, or the 1.6 million deaths this disease claims every year, one would think that this would mean a decrease in the overall consumption of one of the most widespread representation of sugar or sweets in general: chocolates. It didn’t, in fact, chocolate consumption actually rose every year.
While this trend is somewhat alarming, it comes with a silver lining. Dark chocolate, or those with 50% and up cocoa content, has been discovered to possess several medicinal qualities that can immensely benefit people with a sweet tooth. We’ve gathered five health benefits that you can get from eating dark chocolate bars daily… in moderation, of course.
- Powerful Source of Antioxidants
Unprocessed cocoa beans and dark chocolate are among the most potent sources of antioxidants in the world, surpassing even blueberries and the widely-recognized superfood Acai berries. Dark chocolate is loaded with antioxidants that include polyphenols, flavanols, catechins, among others. Antioxidants are important because they fight free radicals that destroy living cells, induce premature aging, and whose presence alone causes an increase in risks of heart disease, cancer, and other diseases.
- Dark Chocolate is Nutritious
Being a powerful source of antioxidants aside, chocolate also has several other medicinal qualities despite it being equated with diabetes or obesity. Well, the sweeter and milkier variant, at least. The more bitter and flavorful one, dark chocolate is actually filled to the brim with minerals such as magnesium, copper, manganese, potassium, phosphorus, zinc, and selenium. It also has a decent amount of soluble fiber and small amounts of sugar.
- Can Help Increase Sensitivity to Insulin
A study in 2005 that was published in the March issue of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition claimed that dark chocolate can help improve the insulin sensitivity and resistance of the body whereas white chocolate (0% cocoa, all cocoa butter) cannot. The study tasked 15 healthy participants to randomly eat either dark or white chocolate bars for 15 days, another seven days for a washout phase, and then a crossover to the other chocolate.
- Can Lower Blood Pressure by 2-3 Points
People with hypertension, normally those who are advised to cut back on all kinds of tasty and flavorful food, will be very glad to learn that dark chocolate can lower blood pressure by as much as 2-3 points. A Harvard study that analyzed 24 chocolate studies that involved 1106 people found out that dark chocolate bars that contain at least 50-70% cocoa lowered the blood pressure of all the participants. The most significant decrease, however, were to those with hypertension. The study also found out that chocolate increased the insulin sensitivity of the participants.
- Increase Good Cholesterol and Reduce the Bad
When taken in moderation, dark chocolate can also be very beneficial to your heart. A study conducted at the San Diego State University and presented at the Experimental Biology 2012 meeting found out that eating dark chocolate, other than helping lower the blood sugar levels of a person, can also reduce the body’s “bad” cholesterol levels and increase that of “good” cholesterol.
Satisfy Your Sweet Tooth
You don’t need to give up your chocolate fixation even if you’re already diagnosed as diabetic. Sure, you need to massively cut down on almost everything flavorful and tasty, like chocolates, and adhere to an active lifestyle plan your doctor would suggest. But that doesn’t mean goodbye to your favorite sweets.
Just be sure it’s not milk chocolate. Or god forbid, white chocolate (shudders).
Milk Products and Type 2 Diabetes
Back to Roles on Certain Health Conditions
The relationship between milk product consumption and type 2 diabetes has been examined in a number of studies including several meta-analyses. The totality of the evidence to date indicates that milk products, including higher fat milk products, as well as yogurt and cheese specifically, are associated with a reduced risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
- Milk product consumption is associated with a decreased risk of developing type 2 diabetes;
- Total dairy and low-fat milk products are associated with a reduced risk of type 2 diabetes;
- Yogurt and cheese are associated with a reduced risk of type 2 diabetes;
- High-fat dairy/dairy fat is either neutral or associated with a decreased risk of developing type 2 diabetes;
- Recent evidence suggests that higher fat milk products, including cheese, may be especially protective in those who have pre-diabetes.
A number of meta-analyses of prospective cohort studies have concluded that higher milk product consumption is associated with a reduced risk of type 2 diabetes. Yogurt and cheese appear to be particularly beneficial. The evidence also suggests that higher fat dairy foods, including cheese, may decrease the risk of developing type 2 diabetes. Potential mechanisms may involve multiple dairy food components including calcium, vitamin D, dairy-derived fatty acids and amino acids, as well as probiotic and prebiotic effects on the gut microbiome.1,2,3,4
A large meta-analysis published in 2018 by Imamura et al. analyzed associations between fatty acid biomarkers of dairy consumption and the risk of developing diabetes. The pooled findings from 16 prospective cohort studies with up to 20 years of follow-up (N=63,682), showed that:1
- Higher circulating and tissue concentrations of dairy biomarker fatty acids (15:0 and 17:0, and t16:1n-7) were associated with a lower risk of type 2 diabetes.
- Higher levels of the sum of these dairy biomarker fatty acids were associated with a 29% lower risk of type 2 diabetes (hazard ratio 0.71, 95% CI: 0.63-0.79; comparing the 10th to 90th percentile range in each cohort).
A meta-analysis published by Tian et al. in 2017 helps to clarify the relationships between different types of protein-rich foods and the development of type 2 diabetes. Findings from the 11 prospective cohort studies included in this meta-analysis indicate that higher intakes of dairy foods, including yogurt and whole milk in particular, are associated with a lower risk of type 2 diabetes (N=483,174).5
- Total dairy product consumption was associated with an 11% lower risk of type 2 diabetes, comparing high to low intakes (relative risk of 0.89, 95% CI: 0.84–0.94).
- Yogurt consumption was associated with a 17% reduced risk of type 2 diabetes, comparing high to low yogurt intakes (relative risk of 0.83, 95% CI: 0.70–0.98).
- Whole milk consumption was associated with a 13% decreased risk of type 2 diabetes, compared to low dairy fat intake (relative risk of 0.87, 95% CI: 0.78–0.96).
A dose-response meta-analysis published by Gijsbers et al. in 2016 examined the associations between dairy foods and the development of type 2 diabetes. This comprehensive analysis included data from 22 prospective cohort studies involving adults who were healthy at baseline (N=579,832).6
A systematic review of 21 meta-analyses of prospective cohort studies published by Drouin-Chartier et al. in 2016 examined the relationship between dairy product consumption and cardiovascular health outcomes, including type 2 diabetes. This extensive, in-depth systematic review, which included quality assessment and grading of the evidence, concluded that:7
- Low-fat dairy and yogurt are associated with a decreased risk of type 2 diabetes (based on high-quality evidence).
- Total dairy and cheese are also associated with a decreased risk of type 2 diabetes (based on moderate-quality evidence).
- There is no evidence that the consumption of dairy fat or regular and high-fat dairy is detrimental to any cardiovascular health outcomes, including type 2 diabetes.
- The recommendation to focus on low-fat dairy instead of regular- and high-fat dairy is currently not evidence-based.
In 2017, Hruby et al. published findings from their investigation of the associations between dairy food intakes and the development of prediabetes and type 2 diabetes. This study included 2,809 adults from the Framingham Heart Study Offspring Cohort who were followed for 12 years.8
Among those with normal glucose status at baseline:
Among those with pre-diabetes at baseline:
- High-fat dairy was associated with a 70% reduced risk of developing diabetes (≥14 compared with <1 serving/week for high-fat dairy)
- Cheese was associated a 63% lower risk of developing type 2 diabetes (≥4 compared with <1 serving/week for cheese).
There are several plausible biological mechanisms through which milk products may play a role in reducing the risk of developing type 2 diabetes: 2,3,4
Milk products help in weight management and reduce the risk of developing hypertension and metabolic syndrome, which are major risk factors for type 2 diabetes.
In a systematic review, results from longer intervention studies indicate that higher dairy intake may help improve insulin sensitivity.9
Calcium, vitamin D and magnesium
Calcium and vitamin D, as well as magnesium, may reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes through their role in modulating insulin resistance, pancreatic beta-cell function, and inflammation.4,10,11 Evidence from cell culture and animal models also suggests calcium may reduce fat cell lipid accumulation and adiposity.4
- Whey protein may promote insulin sensitivity, improve glucose tolerance and lipid profile, and help in weight control;3,9,12
- The essential amino acid Leucine may counter mitochondrial dysfunction and increase thermogenesis.4
- Bioactive peptides may also help to control blood pressure.2
Dairy fatty acids
- Trans-palmitoleic acid (trans-16:1n-7) has been associated with lower insulin resistance, lower blood pressure, a better lipid profile and a reduced risk of type 2 diabetes;13,14,15
- Pentadecanoic acid (15:0) has been inversely associated with fasting plasma glucose and incident type 2 diabetes;15,16,17
- Conjugated linoleic acid may play a role in the prevention of obesity, which is a risk factor for type 2 diabetes.
Other dairy components
- Probiotic bacteria, found in fermented milk products such as yogurt, have been shown to improve blood lipid profile and antioxidant status of individuals with type 2 diabetes.3,18
- Milk products, particularly cheese, contain menaquinones (vitamin K2), which have been associated with reduced risk of developing type 2 diabetes.2,10,16
- A higher fat dairy-based diet has been shown to significantly alter the gut microbiome and reduce liver fat (compared to a soy and sucrose-based diet) in animal studies.4
Current evidence indicates that higher consumption of milk products is associated with a reduced risk of developing type 2 diabetes. Both lower fat and higher fat milk products may play a beneficial role in preventing type 2 diabetes; and emerging evidence suggests that higher fat milk products may be especially protective in those who have pre-diabetes. Yogurt and cheese in particular, appear to be protective against type 2 diabetes.
- Imamura F et al. Fatty acid biomarkers of dairy fat consumption and incidence of type 2 diabetes: A pooled analysis of prospective cohort studies. PLoS Med 2018. doi: 10.1371/journal.pmed.1002670.
- Mozaffarian D and Wu JHY. Flavonoids, dairy foods, and cardiovascular and metabolic health: A review of emerging biologic pathways. Circ Res 2018;122:369-384.
- Chen M et al. Dairy consumption and risk of type 2 diabetes: 3 cohorts of US adults and an updated meta-analysis. BMC Med 2014;12:215.
- Hirahatake KM et al. Associations between dairy foods, diabetes, and metabolic health: potential mechanisms and future directions. Metabolism 2014;63:618-627.
- Tian et al. Dietary protein consumption and the risk of type 2 diabetes: A systematic review and meta-analysis of cohort studies. Nutrients 2017;9:982.
- Gijsbers L et al. Consumption of dairy foods and diabetes incidence: a dose-response meta-analysis of observational studies. Am J Clin Nutr 2016;103:1111-1124.
- Drouin-Chartier JP et coll. Systematic review of the association between dairy product consumption and risk of cardiovascular-related clinical outcomes. Adv Nutr 2016;7:1026-1040.
- Hruby A et al. Associations of dairy intake with incident prediabetes or diabetes in middle-aged adults vary by both dairy type and glycemic status. J Nutr 2017;147:1764-1775.
- Turner KM et al. Dairy consumption and insulin sensitivity: a systematic review of short- and long-term intervention studies. Nutr Metab Cardiovasc Dis 2015;25:3-8.
- Aune D et al. Dairy products and the risk of type 2 diabetes: a systematic review and dose-response meta-analysis of cohort studies. Am J Clin Nutr 2013;98:1066-1083.
- Pittas AG et al. The role of vitamin D and calcium in type 2 diabetes. A systematic review and meta-analysis. J Clin Endocrinol Metab 2007;92:2017-2029.
- Bjørnshave A and Hermansen K. Effects of dairy protein and fat on the metabolic syndrome and type 2 diabetes. Rev Diabet Stud 2014;11:153-166.
- Mozaffarian D et al. Trans-palmitoleic acid, metabolic risk factors, and new-onset diabetes in US adults: a cohort study. Ann Intern Med 2010;153:790-799.
- Mozaffarian D et al. Trans-palmitoleic acid, other dairy fat biomarkers, and incident diabetes: the Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis (MESA). Am J Clin Nutr 2013;97:854-861.
- Kratz M et al. Dairy fat intake is associated with glucose tolerance, hepatic and systemic insulin sensitivity, and liver fat but not β-cell function in humans. Am J Clin Nutr 2014;99:1385-1396.
- Forouhi NG et al. Differences in the prospective association between individual plasma phospholipid saturated fatty acids and incident type 2 diabetes: the EPIC-InterAct case-cohort study. Lancet Diabetes Endocrinol 2014;2:810-818.
- Santaren ID et al. Serum pentadecanoic acid (15:0), a short-term marker of dairy food intake, is inversely associated with incident type 2 diabetes and its underlying disorders. Am J Clin Nutr2014;100:1532-1540.
- O’Connor LM et al. Dietary dairy product intake and incident type 2 diabetes: a prospective study using dietary data from a 7-day food diary. Diabetologia 2014;57:909-917.
Keywords: type 2 diabetes , healthy weight , calcium , vitamin D
Is cow’s milk good food for people, especially people with diabetes? The American Diabetes Association (ADA) and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) say yes. Given how I feel about ADA and USDA’s record on nutrition advice, I think we should check for ourselves.
ADA recommends two to three servings of low-fat milk (or other low-fat dairy food such as cheese and yogurt) each day. “Including sources of dairy products in your diet is an easy way to get calcium and high-quality protein,” according to their nutrition page.
USDA says three cups a day for people age nine and up. But what do independent experts say? And what does the data say?
Many disagree about milk’s being healthy. Dr. Mark Hyman, author of The Blood Sugar Solution, wrote,
“I typically advise most of my patients to avoid dairy products completely… From an evolutionary point of view, milk is a strange food for humans. Until 10,000 years ago we didn’t domesticate animals and weren’t able to drink milk… The majority of humans naturally stop producing significant amounts of lactase — the enzyme needed to lactose, the sugar in milk — sometime between the ages of two and five.”
OK. So some experts disagree with the government. But we have to start at the beginning. What is milk anyway?
What milk is made of
Milk is food produced by mammal mothers to feed their young. Mammal milks are all similar, but they have important differences in the specific proteins. It may be that cow’s milk is not a good match for most human populations.
Milk has significant amounts of fat, protein, and carbohydrate in one package. Normal cow’s milk contains 30–35 grams of protein per liter, mostly in the form of casein. It also contains dozens of other proteins in small amounts, various minerals, and vitamins A, B complex, C, D, K, and E.
What could be wrong with that? Let’s look a little more closely.
Milk protein linked to Type 1 diabetes?
There are four different types of casein proteins, called alpha-S1, alpha-S2, beta, and kappa caseins. Other milk proteins are called “whey” proteins.
A variant of beta-casein known as A1 beta-casein has been implicated in causing Type 1 diabetes. In genetically vulnerable children, A1 beta-casein may set off an immune response that later turns against the beta cells in the pancreas.
Children who drink cow milk have been found more likely to develop Type 1 later on. Other scientists say this evidence is weak and the studies were flawed. I think children should be kept off cow’s milk formulas at least until their first birthday.
The National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK) defines a serving of dairy as 8 ounces of nonfat or low-fat milk or yogurt.
This low-fat advice appears unsupported by science. Most of the good stuff in milk is in the fats. According to Wikipedia, “the fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E, and K along with essential fatty acids such as linoleic and linolenic acid are found within the milk fat portion of milk.”
Some evidence supports milk fat as being protective against Type 2 diabetes. A study published in the December 2010 issue of Annals of Internal Medicine followed 3,736 men for 10 years and found that those who had the highest blood levels of a type of fatty acid from whole-fat (not nonfat) dairy foods had 60% less chance of developing Type 2 diabetes than men with the lowest levels.
As one of the authors commented, “This is an extremely strong protective effect, stronger than other things we know can be beneficial against diabetes.”
Several other studies have demonstrated that dairy consumption lowers risk for insulin resistance, metabolic syndrome, or diabetes. Researchers credit a fatty acid found in dairy products, trans-palmitoleic acid, as the possible protective compound.
In various studies, higher levels of trans-palmitoleic acid were associated with numerous desirable outcomes: lower body-mass index, smaller waist circumference, lower triglyceride levels, lower levels of C-reactive protein (a marker of inflammation), lower fasting insulin levels, and less insulin resistance.
Milk sugar is called lactose. Lactose gives milk its sweet taste and contributes approximately 40% of whole cow’s milk’s calories.
Lactose can definitely raise your blood glucose. An enzyme called lactase splits it up into glucose and galactose. Because this split takes time, some nutritionists say lactose converts to blood glucose relatively slowly (that is to say, it has a low glycemic index or GI).
But others say that dairy may have a low GI but it stimulates insulin as if it had a high GI. Loren Cordain, PhD, of Colorado State Department of Health and Exercise Science, believes this may be due to the combination of lactose and some of the amino acids in whey proteins.
Cordain, author of The Paleo Answer, says the insulin response to milk is “extreme,” and advises people concerned about diabetes to avoid milk products.
It’s hard to reconcile the supposedly healthful affects of dairy fat with the supposedly harmful effects of dairy sugar. Should we drink it or not?
Different kinds of milk
There are other milks besides human and cow. Goat milk is gaining popularity. Camel milk is said by many to be extremely nutritious. It’s now for sale in the U.S. Vegan milks include soy milk, rice milk, and almond milk.
You might consider buying either free-range, grass-fed organic milk or using a vegan alternative. According to Discovery Health, milk cows are given hormones to increase their milk production and antibiotics to decrease infections. Neither of these is good to eat.
People who don’t have sufficient lactase to digest lactose will be “lactose intolerant,” and may suffer diarrhea, intestinal gas, cramps, and bloating from drinking milk.
It is estimated that 30 to 50 million Americans are lactose intolerant, including up to 75% of Native Americans and African-Americans, and 90% of Asian Americans.
Lactose-free or reduced lactose milk is available. It has been treated with lactase to break lactose down, so it doesn’t cause abdominal problems. It is sweeter than regular milk and has a higher glycemic index.
So is milk good or bad? I am confused. How has it been for you?
Want to learn more about milk? Read “Full-Fat or Low-Fat Dairy: Which Is Best?” by certified diabetes educator and registered dietitian Amy Campbell.
The Best Ways to Enjoy Dark Chocolate When You Have Diabetes
One of the most widely believed myths about living with type 2 diabetes is that all sweets are off-limits, and upon receiving a diabetes diagnosis, you may feel forced to say goodbye to all the after-dinner treats and 3 p.m. pick-me-ups you once loved. Fortunately, it’s actually true that some sweets are safe for people with type 2 diabetes — and in the case of dark chocolate, a moderate amount may even lead to some significant health benefits, including lower blood sugar.
Among the possible perks of noshing on a square of the dark stuff are improved brain function, blood pressure, cholesterol, and heart health, according to the American Diabetes Association.
Those benefits may seem like enough reason to race for the candy aisle, but not so fast. As with eating any food when you’re managing diabetes, details are key. Follow this guide to enjoy dark chocolate safely without throwing your blood sugar out of whack.
Why Dark Chocolate and Diabetes Make a Sweet Combination
A plain square of high-cocoa dark chocolate is packed with good-for-you components that put that designer cupcake or gourmet chocolate-chip cookie to shame. “The antioxidants in chocolate help the body use its insulin more efficiently to help control blood sugar,” says Anna Simos, CDE, the diabetes education and prevention program manager at Stanford Health Care in Palo Alto, California. “This in turn helps lower blood sugar levels naturally and actually helps your body use your insulin. As a result, it helps decrease insulin resistance, which we see in type 2 diabetes.”
According to an animal study published in the November 2017 issue of the Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry, it’s the compounds found in cocoa called cocoa flavanols that appear to enhance certain cells’ ability to secrete insulin, the hormone that manages blood glucose. While the study’s results are still preliminary, and the authors note you’d need to consume a lot of cocoa and not much sugar to reap these benefits, other studies also suggest dark chocolate can help people with diabetes.
For example, in a randomized controlled trial published in January 2015 in ARYA Atherosclerosis, researchers found that participants with type 2 diabetes who ate dark chocolate for eight weeks saw improvements in health markers like fasting blood sugar and A1C levels, while those participants with type 2 diabetes who ate white chocolate did not.
Furthermore, the flavonols in dark chocolate may help your ticker — another win for people with diabetes, as these individuals are at a twofold risk for heart disease, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. A study published in August 2015 in Vascular Pharmacology found that people who ate high-flavanol dark chocolate saw modest improvements in cardiovascular function.
How to Pick a Good Dark Chocolate for Your Blood Sugar
When it comes to picking the best dark chocolate for your health, some varieties are healthier for people with diabetes than others. Follow these tips to get the biggest nutritional bang for your buck.
Look at the percentage of cocoa. Just because a chocolate bar is labeled “dark” doesn’t mean it’s healthy. Indeed, some types of “dark chocolate” could be as low as 30 percent cocoa, making them more on par with regular milk chocolate nutrition-wise, warns Anna Taylor, RD, CDE, at the Cleveland Clinic in Ohio. To reap the most health benefits from chocolate, choose a bar that contains 70 percent cocoa or more. Often, Simos says, the cocoa content will appear in plain sight on the front of the packaging.
Eye the sugar content to keep carb intake in check. All chocolate — including unsweetened baking chocolate — has carbs, Simos says. Try to keep the carbs for one chocolate snack to 15 to 30 grams (g) max, she recommends. For reference, a small Hershey’s Kiss, or about 10 to 15 unsweetened dark chocolate chips both contain 15 g of carbohydrates, Simos says. Even when you’re indulging, counting carbs is crucial for managing diabetes.
Beware of any sugary extra ingredients. “Limit dark chocolate that has caramel, toffee, or other sugary add-ins,” Taylor says. Dark chocolate, she notes, shouldn’t have more than around 8 g of sugar per 1 ounce (oz), or 28 g of chocolate. On the other hand, opting for a bar with nuts, like almonds, is a safer bet, because of their satiating effect and their ability to slow the rise in blood sugar levels.
Consider opting for sugar-free cocoa powder or cacao nibs for a treat. These easy options are naturally sugar-free and will give you that chocolate taste without the same hit of carbs, Simos notes. Another benefit? Cacao nibs contain iron and minerals like magnesium — a plus for people with diabetes, she says. Magnesium deficiency is associated with type 2 diabetes, likely because of the increased urination common in people with diabetes, according to a review published in August 2015 in the World Journal of Diabetes.
Diabetes-Friendly Ideas for Enjoying Dark Chocolate
If you’re craving chocolate, here are some of the best ways to get your fix.
Have a rich serving of dark chocolate — but limit the serving to about ¾ to 1 oz. That way, Taylor says, you’ll get some of the benefits of dark chocolate and satisfy your craving for something sweet, but you won’t break the bank on your calories, saturated fat, carb, or sugar intake.
Sprinkle cacao nibs on your yogurt. This is a smaller, more compact way of getting the benefits of dark chocolate, Simos says. Cacao nibs have about 13 g of carbs in a 1 oz serving, but also contain blood-sugar-regulating fiber and protein that will slow down your digestion and help you feel fuller for longer, she explains. To ensure your snack or dessert is extra diabetes-friendly, consider opting for plain, nonfat Greek yogurt — which is also packed with filling protein and gut-friendly probiotics.
Add some cocoa powder to your morning shake. Just 1 to 2 tablespoons of natural cocoa per day may help boost your heart health, Simos says. Similarly, unsweetened cocoa powder contains virtually no sugar.
Choose artificially sweetened chocolate with care. If you want to enjoy chocolate but don’t want to risk spiking your blood sugar, consider reaching for a no-sugar-added hot-cocoa mix, Simos says. Just check the ingredients label to make sure the carbs per serving stay beneath that 15 to 30 g range. You could also opt for artificially sweetened chocolate, but you have to be careful about what kind of sugar substitute is used, Simos says, because sugar alcohols, like sorbitol, can have a laxative effect, and convert into blood-sugar-spiking carbohydrates. Not to mention, some research suggests these types of sweeteners may lead to increased sugar cravings and unwanted weight gain. Good diabetes management depends on healthy weight, as weight gain can increase insulin resistance — the hallmark of type 2 diabetes.
Ultimately, Simos advises, opting for dark chocolate with regular sugar, and indulging mindfully and in moderation, is your best bet for reaping the heart and hypoglycemic benefits that the treat can offer.
Diabetes and Dark Chocolate
Mouthwatering dark chocolate; could it be true that there are health benefits to eating it? Should someone with diabetes avoid the sheer pleasure of dark chocolate? Are there any precautions to take? What is the real story surrounding dark chocolate and diabetes? Last but not least DiabetesCare.net has a list of 5 recipes that include dark chocolate for your utter enjoyment.
The health benefits of eating chocolate:
- Research scientists are studying good bacteria found in the digestive tract of people that normally eat cocoa. Preliminary findings are pointing in the direction that this bacteria is helping to ferment antioxidants and fiber found in cocoa. These bacteria are thought to help create compounds that are anti-inflammatory and help with our cardiovascular health. In one study of healthy individuals, it was found that by eating a small square (8 grams) of dark chocolate (70% cocoa chocolate) every day for a months’ time an improvement in vascular function over their own baseline as well as the control group was shown. This small amount can potentially help to decrease the risk of heart disease. The research was done on pure, unsweetened cocoa powder and it is advised that even the darkest chocolate must be consumed in moderation to avoid excess calories and weight gain. At this time scientists can not recommend an ideal amount of cocoa powder to eat. (1)
- For people with type 2 diabetes, daily dark chocolate consumption of 20 grams per day (that was rich with polyphenols) helped increase the sensitivity to insulin. This is important for blood glucose control. Increasing insulin sensitivity may also help delay the onset of type 2 diabetes in people with pre-diabetes. (1)
- A review of literature in 2012 found that eating dark chocolate every day reduced blood pressure by approximately 2-3 points. (1) Flavanols which are found in dark chocolate can help form nitric oxide. This helps relax blood vessel walls which leads to a lowering of blood pressure. (2)
- In a small study of 31 participants, when comparing the consumption of white chocolate to 70 percent cocoa dark chocolate, the participants who ate the dark chocolate (1.7 ounces per day for 15 days) had lower blood glucose levels, decreased low density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL) by 20 percent and increased high density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol by 20 percent. More research on this fascinating topic needs to take place. (3)
Precautions when eating chocolate:
- If a person has diabetes and decides to eat chocolate, they need to be careful to include it in their carbohydrate counts and not to go overboard. When excessively eaten, it can lead to increased blood glucose levels. It can also cause weight gain. (4)
- Of course, do not eat chocolate if you are allergic to it.
- Chocolate can be toxic and even deadly for dogs. Be careful not to leave chocolate around for a pet to eat. For more information ask your veterinarian. (5)
Eating chocolate for many people is a very enjoyable experience! Remember to calculate the amount you eat to fit your meal plan. Ask your dietitian for help with this exciting task! Note: The processing process to make Dutch chocolate reduces the amount of healthy antioxidants. For maximum benefits look for natural cocoa. (6) Here are links to 5 delicious recipes that contain dark chocolate:
- Bittersweet chocolate tart (use dark chocolate with at least 70 percent cocoa chocolate as the chocolate). Be careful of your portion size as the recipe makes 12 servings and fat content can add up quickly if you go overboard. With that said, enjoy in moderation!
- Chocolate comfort sipper (If your plan allows for 38 grams of carbohydrate before bed, this may be an option for you. This is equal to 2 ½ carbohydrate choices)
- Chocolate mocha cream roll
- Chocolate Zucchini Cake
- Chocolate Popcorn (This recipe uses fat-free, sugar-free cocoa mix, for the health benefits of dark chocolate use a brand such as Injoy.)
Talk to your dietitian and doctor about the health benefits of chocolate. If you love it, discuss how to fit it into your meal plan. I will let you in on a secret…It is a small part of my plan and it is oh-so-good! Comment below on your favorite chocolate indulgence.
Diabetic and Dark chocolate
in Healthy Eating, Meal Planning & Nutrition
09 Sep 2019
Why Dark Chocolate Is One of the Best Desserts for Diabetics
A diabetic eating chocolate raise so many questions amongst some people but you know what chocolate needn’t be completely cut out of your diet.
In most cases, chocolate will cause a rise in blood sugar levels and thus it’s best to limit chocolate consumption to small amounts and to avoid eating when blood sugars keeps on fluctuating.
As chocolate contains several beneficial nutrients, some of which called flavonoids are thought to guard against cardiac diseases. However, larger quantities of chocolates areharmful to health in other ways.Consuming chocolate in a larger dose, it will raise blood sugars which increases the risk of complications, of which heart related problems is one.
Also, the calorific content of chocolate is relatively high and hence overconsumption of chocolate could lead to weight gain which also raises the risk of heart problems.
How much chocolate should I eat?
Diabetic patients should restrict their chocolate intake to a few squares to prevent too much of elevated blood sugar.
For people with diabetes, not having obesity, chocolate can be appropriate to have before work out.For more intense activity, however, even shorter acting carbohydrate may be required.
Which chocolate is best for me?
Chocolate containing higher amounts of cocoa solids are best, as the sugar and fat content will often be lower as a result.
For high cocoa solids content, dark chocolate is a good pick.
Is diabetic chocolate better for my sugar levels?
Diabetic chocolate is made by replacing some or all of the sugar content with an alternative source of sweetener, such as the polyols, maltitol,aspartame and sorbitol.
Polyols can have laxative effects and therefore they should not be consumed in large quantities. The effect of polyols may vary for different person.Diiabetic chocolate is beneficial compared to regular chocolate
How to Pick a Good Dark Chocolate for Your Blood Sugar
Following are the tips to help you choose the right dark chocolate for you as when it comes to picking the best dark chocolate for your health, some are healthier for people with diabetes than others.
Look at the percentage of cocoa.
Bar labeled dark doesn’t mean it’s healthy. Some types of “dark chocolate” could be as low as 30 percent cocoa, making them more of a milk chocolate. To reap the most health benefits from chocolate, choose a bar that contains 70 percent cocoa or more.The cocoa content will appear on the front of the packaging.
Eye the sugar content to keep carb intake in check.
All chocolate including unsweetened baking chocolate — has carbs in it. It is recommended to keep the carbs for one chocolate snack to 15 to 30 grams (g) max. For example, about 10 to 15 unsweetened dark chocolate chips contain 15 g of carbohydrates. Even when you’re indulging, managing carbs is crucial for diabetes.
Beware of any sugary extra ingredients.
Limit dark chocolate that has caramel, toffee, or other sugary add-ins. Dark chocolate shouldn’t have more than around 8 g of sugar per 1 ounce (oz), or 28 g of chocolate. On the other hand,choosing for a bar with nuts such as almonds, is safer because it helps satisfy the hunger and also it helps to slow the rise in blood sugar levels.
Consider opting for sugar-free cocoa powder or cacao nibs for a treat.
These are naturally sugar-free and will give you that chocolate taste without the same hit of carbs. Also cacao nibs contain iron and minerals like magnesium — a plus for people with diabetes.According to the review published in August 2015 in the World Journal of Diabetes Magnesium deficiency is associated with type 2 diabetes, likely because of the increased urination common in people with diabetes.
Craving for chocolate? Here are some of the best ways to get your fix.
Have a rich serving of dark chocolate — but limit the serving to about ¾ to 1 oz.
This will help you get some of the benefits of dark chocolate and satisfy your craving for something sweet, without consuming more calories, saturated fat, carbs, or sugar intake.
Sprinkle cacao nibs on your yogurt.
This is a smaller, more compact way of getting the benefits of dark chocolate. Cacao nibs have about 13 g of carbs in a 1 oz serving, but also contain blood sugar regulating fibre and protein that will slow down your digestion and help you feel fuller for longer. Opt for a plain non-fat greek yogurt as it will be packed with the goodness of protein and probiotics.
Add some cocoa powder to your morning shake.
Just 1 to 2 tablespoons of natural cocoa per day may help boost your heart health. Similarly, unsweetened cocoa powder contains virtually no sugar.
Choose artificially sweetened chocolate with care.
If you want to enjoy chocolate but don’t want to risk increase of blood sugar, get a no-sugar-added hot-cocoa mix. Just check the ingredients label to make sure the carbs per serving stay beneath that 15 to 30 g range.Good diabetes management depends on healthy weight, as weight gain can increase insulin resistance — the hallmark of type 2 diabetes.
Ultimately opting for dark chocolate with regular sugar, and indulging mindfully and in moderation, is your best bet for reaping the heart and hypoglycemic benefits that the treat can offer.
Cover Photo by Monika Grabkowska on Unsplash
Dark Chocolate and Diabetes: The Benefits of This Tasty Snack
Hardly a day goes by without a media source advising us to “Eat a tomato each day for better skin,” “have a glass of red wine each night with dinner” — or some other dietary directive. Perhaps you’ve heard about the potential health benefits of dark chocolate and diabetes. But is it true?
Chocolate fans, rejoice! Yes, in fact, this snack could lower your diabetes risk according to Endocrine Abstracts. Daily consumption of dark chocolate is associated with positive effects on insulin sensitivity and blood sugar — two key factors in developing diabetes. But before you jump and start incorporating chocolate into meals, make sure you know the facts.
The Link Between Dark Chocolate and Diabetes
The secret of how dark chocolate works against diabetes lies within the sweet snack’s makeup. Dark chocolate contains polyphenols, which are naturally occurring compounds that have antioxidant properties (which protect the body from damage caused by harmful molecules). Polyphenols in dark chocolate may improve insulin sensitivity, or how well insulin works in the body. This, in turn, may help control blood sugar, according to research published in Endocrine Abstracts. Such improved insulin sensitivity may delay, or even prevent, the onset of diabetes.
A study published by the journal Appetite found that people who eat chocolate, including dark chocolate, at least once a week had a lower prevalence of diabetes and were at lower risk for diabetes four to five years later. The analysis of 908 nondiabetic people and 45 people with diabetes discovered that people who ate such chocolate less than once weekly were at twice the risk of diabetes versus those who ate it more than one day per week.
But what if you already have diabetes? Well, there may be some benefits of dark chocolate consumption for you, too. Research presented by ARYA Atherosclerosis analyzed people diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes who consumed 25 grams of either dark or white chocolate for eight weeks. Those who ate dark chocolate had lower blood pressure after eight weeks than those who ate white chocolate. The dark chocolate eaters also had decreased fasting blood sugar.
The Right Dark Chocolate For You
So you’re ready to buy up your supermarket’s inventory of dark chocolate? Not all chocolate is created equal. Remember, it’s the polyphenol-rich dark chocolate that contains antioxidants, and the higher percentage of cocoa yields better health advantages, according to Bastyr University.
Read the nutrition facts to ensure you’re getting most out of the snack. Experts at Bastyr recommend choosing a dark chocolate that has at least as much fiber as sugar. Also, check if the dark chocolate has been processed with alkali (the process that makes cocoa less bitter, but it eliminates the health properties in the chocolate). Opt instead for a dark chocolate that has not been processed.
Enjoy Dark Chocolate in Moderation
Remember that consuming too much of a good thing may have negative effects. Commercial chocolate may add fat, sugar and calories to the candy. The Cedars-Sinai medical center cautions that people with diabetes shouldn’t use chocolate as a way to boost low blood glucose, because the fat in chocolate prevents your glucose from rising quickly. As always, consult a medical professional, such as a physician or registered dietitian, before modifying your diet or insulin use.