The prevalence of Type 2 diabetes mellitus is rising worldwide, as we all know diabetes is often accompanied by an increasing risk of hypertension, cardiovascular disease, and mortality. People living with diabetes have to exercise strict control over their diet to keep their sugar levels at the optimum level. All choices regarding food or snacks need to be made very carefully and most desserts or sweets are a strict no no.
So what can people with diabetes do to indulge their sweet tooth? Well, one delicious answer is dark chocolate! This might surprise but studies have shown that dark chocolate consumed in small quantities can actually help manage diabetes and some of the common conditions that accompany it. In fact some research also indicates that eating small portions of dark chocolate may actually even prevent type 2 diabetes. Let’s see how!
Dark Chocolate Improves Insulin Sensitivity
A study published in 2005 in the “American Journal of Clinical Nutrition” found that dark chocolate improved insulin sensitivity in healthy study participants. Sensitivity or resistance to insulin is one of the reasons why people develop diabetes. The improvement in insulin sensitivity may help prevent the onset of diabetes. Researchers also observed a decrease in blood pressure in the same study. This is great news for diabetics who also have hypertension.
Dark Chocolate Helps Regulate Cholesterol Levels.
There is another way eating dark chocolate can help prevent diabetes. In a review of 21 studies, presented at the conference of the American Heart Association in 2011, scientists linked improved health of blood vessels and levels of good cholesterol with consumption of dark chocolate. They also found that consuming dark chocolate reduced levels of bad cholesterol. It is theorized that this could prevent diabetes.
The Role of Flavonoids
Till now you’ve been how dark chocolate prevents diabetes. But it also helps in managing diabetes if you are already suffering from the condition. The main role here is of a compound known as flavonol which is present in Cacao from which we get chocolate. There is documented research that indicates that anti diabetic properties of flavonol. Scientists have theorized and proven that flavonoids are capable of improving, stabilizing and long sustaining the insulin secretion, human islets and pancreatic cell respectively. There may even come a time when there are treatments for diabetes based on flavonoids!
Dark Chocolate is a Healthy Snack for Diabetics
If you are looking for something sweet to munch on – dark chocolate is not a bad idea. It will not increase blood sugar levels as dramatically as other sweet sacks. According to the GlycemicIndex.com database, Dove dark chocolate has a glycemic index of 23. In comparison, a raw apple has a glycemic index of 40 and a banana has 45.
Remember Moderation is Key
All these benefits of consuming dark chocolate are proven and documented but it would be good to remember two things. First, these are true of only dark chocolate, i.e chocolate which is high in cocoa content and low in sugar. You will not derive these benefits from milk chocolate or white chocolate which contain considerably higher levels of sugar. Second, even dark chocolate contains sugar so you need to limit your consumption to one or two squares a day. Eating too much dark chocolate will cause an increase in blood glucose levels and may also lead to weight gain.