Dark Chocolate and Diabetes

Dark Chocolate and Diabetes

In today’s video, we’re going to talk about Dark Chocolate and Diabetes.

People with diabetes can eat dessert in moderation, and dark chocolate is a good choice because of its heart-healthy nutrients. Some types are more beneficial than others, though.

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, some sweets are safe for people with type 2 diabetes — and in the case of dark chocolate, a moderate amount may even bring significant health benefits, including lower blood sugar.

Among the possible perks of noshing on a square of the dark stuff are lower risks of heart disease, insulin resistance, and high blood pressure, according to the American Heart 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. Keep watching this video to enjoying dark chocolate safely without throwing your blood sugar out of whack.

Dark Chocolate and Diabetes Make a Sweet Combination.

A square of plain, 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, CDCES, MPH, a certified diabetes care and education specialist at Stanford Health Care’s diabetes care program 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 November 2017 in the Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry, it’s the compounds found in cocoa called flavonols that appear to enhance certain cells’ ability to secrete insulin, the hormone that manages blood glucose. While the results need to be replicated in humans, and the authors note that the mice consumed 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 previous randomized controlled trial, researchers found that participants with type 2 diabetes who ate about one ounce of dark chocolate each day, about one square in a standard bar, 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 with pre-or mild hypertension who ate high-flavonol dark chocolate saw modest improvements in cardiovascular function.

Pick a Good Dark Chocolate for Healthy Blood Sugar Levels.

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. To reap the most health benefits from chocolate, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health suggests choosing a bar that contains 70 percent cocoa or more. Often, the cocoa content will appear in plain sight on the front of the packaging.

Eye the sugar content to keep carbohydrate intake in check. All chocolate — including unsweetened baking chocolate — has carbs. Try to keep the carbs for one chocolate snack to 15 to 30 grams max, she recommends. For reference, a serving of seven Hershey’s Kiss milk chocolate candies has 19 g of carbs, whereas a serving of 1 tablespoon Hershey’s dark chocolate chips has 9 g. Even when you’re indulging, counting carbs can make it easier to manage your blood sugar, the CDC notes.

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