A few decades ago there were many myths surrounding a Type II diabetic’s diet plan. Today, doctors recommend a well-balanced diet that includes plenty of vegetables, healthy protein, low-sugar fruits, and yes, even dessert!
One of the best sweets for a diabetic to eat is dark chocolate. But can a diabetic eat chocolate every day, and if so, just how much can a dark chocolate serving be?
Why Dark Chocolate Over Milk?
Besides milk chocolate containing extra fat, there are many reasons why diabetics should focus on dark chocolate instead. For one, it’s lower in fat and calories.
For another, dark chocolate contains flavonols and antioxidants that actually help to lower blood sugar and also reduce the risk of heart disease. It’s similar to how diabetics can still eat fruit in specific quantities, as the benefits of the fiber, vitamins and minerals outweigh the natural sugar it contains.
Do I Have to Eat Sugar-Free Chocolate?
There are some people who will happily eat that square of baking chocolate from the grocery store that has no sugar in it. But if you can’t do that, dark chocolate with sugar in it is good too.
There are also lower-sugar chocolate options available today, or ones with the sugar substitutes. You can even use the baking dark chocolate squares in your own cooking, to make cookies, cake, muffins, and puddings. You are then in control of how much sugar you place in your recipes.
How Does Dark Chocolate Reduce Blood Sugar Levels?
Besides the flavonols, dark chocolate also contains antioxidants. Both of these compounds help your digestive system to use the insulin in your pancreas more efficiently. These compounds assist in your cells’ ability to secrete insulin. Insulin is the essential hormone that helps to manage your blood glucose levels.
This more effective use of blood sugar helps to decrease blood sugar resistance, making you healthier. Both diabetics and non-diabetics alike can benefit from a dark chocolate treat from time to time. It’s believed that dark chocolate can also benefit your heart.
This is an extra benefit, as many diabetics also suffer from heart disease. In studies done, eating a small amount of dark chocolate each day helped the patients with a slight improvement in cardiovascular functioning.
How Much Dark Chocolate Can I Eat Per Day?
Studies have been done that show that all that is needed is for you to eat one square of dark chocolate per day, or, one ounce. It can take up to eight weeks to see any improvements in health. Lab tests, such as fasting blood sugar or A1C levels should show an improvement over this time.
Will White Chocolate Work?
No, white chocolate isn’t really chocolate at all. It simply contains cocoa butter, as well as milk. If you want to experience the benefits of lower blood sugar, then eat only dark chocolate in the recommended amounts.
How Do I Choose the Best Dark Chocolate?
Don’t let the labels fool you. You need to read the back where the nutrient levels are listed. For example, if it says 30% cocoa, that means it has high levels of fat, sugar, and milk. This is the type to avoid. What you should look for on the labels is at least “70% cocoa” or higher.
Dark chocolate bars with this higher cocoa content will actually brag about it on the front of the packaging, so you shouldn’t have to hunt for it in tiny type on the back.
Should I Consider Other Ingredients?
Yes, keep an eye on the fat content and the sugar content too. A good guideline is to keep your carbs for your daily chocolate snack to about 15 to 30 grams maximum. If you compare milk with dark, you’ll see that the dark chocolate has fewer carbs than the milk chocolate, generally.
Do check if there are additional sugars or fatty ingredients too. For example, the addition of nuts is going to increase the values, but is also going to be healthier for you too (especially almonds!). But you’ll want to calculate that in with the rest of the proteins and fats you eat throughout the day.
One Ounce a Day Keeps the Doctor Away
You can think of one ounce of dark chocolate as the amount in a regular baking square. Since dark chocolate is so tasty, that will fill you up. Or, you can eat the equivalent in a chocolate bar. Just don’t eat the entire bar! Wrap it up and save it for tomorrow.
If you’re aiming to eat dark chocolate as a supplement, rather than as a dessert, then you’ll have greater success. Your blood sugar levels will be more easily controlled, and you can still experience the benefits of better cardiovascular health.
Just be certain to include the nutrient levels with the rest of your diet plan, particularly if you want to enjoy a dessert or fruit that day too. And even eating a small amount of chocolate will help you to generally feel happier and healthier too!
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