If you’re a diabetic, you know that too much sugar is not good for you. But what about chocolates? Should someone with diabetes avoid the sheer pleasure of indulging in chocolates? Or should they have a “diabetic” chocolate? Or should they just throw caution to the winds and give in to the cravings of eating chocolate? Let us try and answer some of these questions.
What Chocolate is Good For Diabetics?
Chocolate is made from the fruit and seeds of the cacao tree. Chocolates come in different varieties, ranging from dark to white to milk. All the health benefits we associate with chocolate are found in dark chocolates, which have natural antioxidants – flavonoids and flavanols. If the cocoa content ((a powder made from the seeds of cacao) is high, the chocolate will be purer, darker and less sweet. Unsweetened cocoa powder has 88 to 96 percent of cocoa, dark chocolate contains 45 to 80 percent, and milk chocolate has only 5 to 7 percent of cocoa.
Dark chocolates are also good for diabetics. Polyphenols (nutrients with antioxidant activity) found in cocoa help in increasing insulin sensitivity, thus improving glucose metabolism and insulin function.
What About Diabetic Chocolates?
This is only one word for these — “NO”. Diabetic chocolates contain sweeteners, such as fructose or sorbitol, which can increase blood sugar levels. They tend to contain just as much fat as ordinary chocolate; in fact, they are often high in bad types of fats, viz. saturated fats and trans fats. Also, they usually have as many calories, if not more, than normal chocolates.
What Are The Benefits of Chocolates?
According to a 2014 study by researchers from Louisiana State University, the digestive tracts of people who eat chocolate contain good bacteria. These bacteria help in creating compounds that are anti-inflammatory and improve cardiovascular health. Eating a small square of 70% cocoa dark chocolate can potentially decrease the risk of heart disease as it lower blood glucose levels, decreases low density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL), and increases high density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol.
Flavanols found in dark chocolate can help form nitric oxide, which helps in relaxing the walls of blood vessels, which may lead to a lowering of blood pressure. Chocolate also boosts brain levels of endorphins as well as serotonin (a natural antidepressant) and dopamine (a well-being hormone).
Too Much Chocolate Can Be Harmful
Like everything else, even dark chocolates should not be consumed in excess. Because, they have high levels of caffeine, which can raise blood pressure and also interfere with sleep. They can also lead to migraine headaches. Chocolates contain oxalates, which are associated with a higher risk of kidney stones. Chocolate can also sometimes, unfortunately, become an addiction because they decrease stress and pain.
How To Manage Cravings for Chocolate?
There are several reasons why people crave for chocolates. The craving may not come from a deficiency of chocolates, but of other nutrients.
As per Sally Fallon of the Weston Price foundation, it’s a deficiency of magnesium and antioxidants in the body that leads to a craving for chocolates.
While chocolate is not the richest source of magnesium, it does make to the top ten list of magnesium-rich foods. It is also known for its ability to promote neurotransmitter activity and increase dopamine production. This makes chocolate especially desirable during hormonal imbalance.
Tips for Eating Chocolates If You Have Diabetes
- Eat chocolates occasionally, but eat the ones which have a high percentage of cocoa and minimum sugar content.
- If you prefer chocolates with filling, pick one up which has a fruit filling rather than nut as fruits have less calories
- Eat them during the day and not at night so that they do not disturb your sleep cycle.
- Indulge your craving for a chocolate after meals as you will eat less of it than when you are hungry
- Have a cup of milk every day with a teaspoon of unsweetened cocoa powder to get all the benefits of chocolate.