In part 1 of this 2 part series exploring the potential health benefits of organic dark chocolate for the current or pre-diabetic, we focused on the very high concentrations of ‘flavanols’ in cocoa and their positive effect for a healthy cardiovascular system. We will now look at several specific studies and their results relating to diabetes control.
By introducing a consistent, high quality source of the flavanols found in dark chocolate, insulin function is improved, blood sugar is better controlled, blood pressure is lowered, and the threat of blood sugar build up and pre-diabetes is lessened.
A recent study at the University of L’Aquila in Italy confirmed these vascular effects. Over a 15 day period, 15 healthy test subjects were given 100g of a typical dark chocolate, (with 500 mg of flavonoids), and 15 others were given 100g of white chocolate (which has NO measurable flavonoids).
After a 7 day washout period following the first test, the groups were reversed and tested for another 15 days. At the end of each period, oral glucose tolerance tests were performed to calculate the insulin resistance and the quantitative insulin sensitivity. Systolic blood pressure was also checked.
Davide Grassi published the results in the “American Journal of Clinical Nutrition”:
“Dark, but not white, chocolate decreases blood pressure and improves insulin sensitivity in healthy persons.”
“Nitric oxide bioavailability deeply influences insulin-stimulated glucose uptake and vascular tone.”
“These findings indicate that dark chocolate may exert a protective action on the vascular endothelium also by improving insulin sensitivity”.
A sidebar of note for current or pre-diabetics.
Obesity is a known risk factor for insulin resistance. Cocoa powder (the origin of dark chocolate) has been proven to be an effective appetite suppressant. A check of the ingredients on the label of many of the popular diet supplements will list cocoa powder high on the list.
So, a portion of good quality dark chocolate before a meal will not only provide your vascular system with a needed antioxidant boost, but you may also gain benefit against the ‘battle of the bulge’.
Another healthy dark chocolate fact for diabetics is the type of fat contained in cocoa.
Two thirds of the fats in dark chocolate are ‘heart healthy’. A study published in “Free Radical Biology Medicine” found that dark chocolate “actually increased HDL (good cholesterol) concentrations and reduced the oxidation of the total cholesterol”.
Where do you find ‘quality’ Healthy Dark Chocolate?
MXI Corporation’s “Xocai” dark chocolate products are independently tested and have the highest antioxidant ratings. (Using the United States Department of Agriculture’s Standardized Antioxidant Value System)
They use an exclusive, patented, cold pressed process that eliminates the ROASTING procedure, and significantly increases antioxidant retention. Of note to diabetics, their products are supplemented with acai berries and blueberries (both with very high antioxidant concentrations), and sweetened with low glycemic, natural ingredients (no raw sugars).
Dagoba dark chocolate products are also an excellent choice. Like Xocai, they are all organic, and while roasted, they are sweetened with unrefined cane sugar, not processed white sugar. As a comparison, a Hershey’s “Healthy” Special Dark Chocolate bar tips the scales at 21 grams of sugar, while Dagoba has only 4 grams.
South Beach Diet offers dark chocolate products that are low on sugar content and have a high percentage of cocoa powder. These products are combined with other healthy natural ingredients to increase their nutritional value.
Most quality, organic, healthy dark chocolate is available only on the Internet. This allows consumers worldwide to shop and compare a variety of these delicious, nutritious products. This also allows the home based entrepreneur the opportunity to take advantage of this highly desirable, rapidly expanding, international market.
If you don’t have the time or patience to shop online, then dark chocolate straight from the store shelves is still an option.
However, it is suggested that you check the ingredient list of the various products available, and select one that has cocoa or cocoa powder listed as the first ingredient. Unfortunately, many dark chocolate products that you will find have ‘sugar’ listed as the primary ingredient.
Enjoy your healthy dark chocolate in moderation, and, if diabetic, even with this encouraging information regarding antioxidants and healthy dark chocolate, please continue to monitor your personal situation and, if indicated, consult with your physician.