Do you like chocolate but are worried about it affecting your diabetes? Then we have good news for you: you can still enjoy chocolate when living with diabetes. In fact, dark chocolate can even have some health benefits; the higher the cocoa content the better.
Cocoa has a very interesting nutritional breakdown as it is rich in phytonutrients, especially flavonoids, known for their antioxidant properties, and also minerals such as magnesium, phosphorus, and iron. Let's take a closer look at the different types of chocolate.
Generally, the higher a chocolate's percentage of cocoa, the darker the chocolate is and the lower its sugar content is. Dark chocolate with 70% cocoa has the lowest glycaemic index (22), followed by milk chocolate (45), and the chocolate with the highest glycaemic index is white chocolate (45 - 60).
Dark chocolate, containing more cocoa, and therefore more flavanols than milk chocolate and white chocolate, could be a better choice. Flavanols are known for their positive impact on insulin sensitivity, and may also improve your blood glucose levels by slowing down the intestinal absorption and digestion of carbohydrates.
Rich in magnesium, iron, and vitamin E, dark chocolate is considered a healthier choice when it comes to choosing between dark, milk and white chocolate. Some scientific studies have shown the positive effects of cocoa and dark chocolate on insulin resistance by reducing oxidative stress, lowering blood pressure, and optimising glucose metabolism.
According to the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA), the benefits of flavanols in cocoa can be obtained by consuming 200 mg per day. This is equivalent to 40 grams of any chocolate with a cocoa content of over 70%.
White chocolate and milk chocolate
Higher in sugar and fat and lower in cocoa content, white chocolate and milk chocolate have not been found to have the same health benefits as dark chocolate.
Milk chocolate contains cocoa butter, sugar, milk powder, lecithin, and less than 25% cocoa. White chocolate also contains cocoa butter, milk, and sugar, but no cocoa solids. Milk and white chocolate can still be enjoyed when living with diabetes, but it’s valuable to understand the sugar and fat content so that you can manage your diabetes accordingly. All chocolate should be enjoyed in moderation and as part of a balanced diet.
Chocolate does not have to be ruled out when you’re living with diabetes. It’s a good idea to look at the different types of chocolate you could have and consider darker chocolate as a reduced sugar option. It’s important to understand that chocolate and confectionery are high in sugar and calories, so the recommendation is to eat them in moderation and take time to understand the nutritional breakdown in them.
Is there a particular type of chocolate that is better for people living with diabetes?
The answer is no, not really, but the quality and ingredients of chocolate can vary and it’s helpful to be mindful of this when choosing which chocolate to enjoy.
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