Can Diabetics Eat Chocolate?

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Diabetics can eat chocolate! Chocolate has many health benefits that are great for both healthy people and diabetics. A diabetic must consider both the carbohydrate and sugar count before eating a piece of chocolate. It also is important to always follow doctor's orders about the consumption of sweets.

Chocolate Benefits

  • Dark chocolate and cocoa have been proven to help the cardiovascular system. According to Elaine Magee, MPH, RD, column writer for the Mayo Clinic website, chocolate can help reduce the risk of "cardiovascular disease, decrease blood pressure and relax blood vessels."

Flavanols

  • The benefits of chocolate come from the antioxidant flavanols found in the cocoa plant. While other plants like tea, grapes and grapefruit contain flavanols, the cocoa bean is incredibly rich in them.

Best Chocolate Sources

  • It is important to know which sources of chocolate contain the most flavanols to reap the most benefits. Cocoa powder and baking chocolate have the most flavanols, so they have the highest nutritional benefits. Dark chocolate is better than milk chocolate, while white chocolate offers no health benefits.

Sugar-free Chocolates

  • Many sugar-free chocolates are on the market today. These chocolates are beneficial for diabetics because they do not cause insulin levels to spike. According to Magee, the sugar substitutes found in these chocolates are "particularly helpful to people with diabetes because only a portion of it [sugar substitute] is digested and absorbed. And the part that is absorbed through the intestinal tract is absorbed slowly, so there is little rise in blood sugar and little need for insulin."

    Most chocolate candies use sugar substitutes like sorbitol, xylitol, mannitol, isomalt and maltitol to sweeten the candies. However, there is a downside to these sweeteners. They can cause stomach upset, including gas and diarrhea.

Beware

  • Sugar-free chocolates are not a "free" food. These chocolates still contain calories and saturated fats although they have fewer calories and fats than their high sugar counterparts. It is always important to follow the portion guidelines so as not to overindulge in the chocolate. No prospective health benefits are worth creating a bigger problem from overindulgence.

Regular Chocolate

  • Regular chocolates can be enjoyed by diabetics. However, diabetics should limit their chocolate intake to dark chocolates or cocoa powder. It is also important to limit regular chocolate intake. Select small chocolates instead of large candy bars, and limit intake to only one serving.

References

  • Photo Credit (c) Visual Panic/ Wikimedia Commons
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