Cocoa’s Connection to Diabetes Management



Chocolate is a decadent treat, and the upcoming holiday season is full of temptations to indulge. With diabetes, sweet treats need to be closely monitored to avoid skyrocketing blood sugar. New research from Brigham Young University found certain compounds in cocoa may help the body release more insulin to better control blood sugar levels.

Don’t head for the candy aisle just yet, this is not a free pass to overindulge; research is not clear on the amount of cocoa needed to yield favorable results. The benefit of chocolate consumption is derived from specific compounds found in cocoa called flavanols, so we must choose wisely. Aim for chocolate with at least 70 percent cocoa content. While dark chocolate offers antioxidant power and possible blood sugar benefits, one ounce equals approximately 200 calories, so portion control is essential.

Another key to remember is that protein and fat can help control blood sugar spikes, so the best time to add a bit of chocolate is alongside a meal or snack. In addition to having chocolate as a sweet treat, there are a variety of “better-for-you” ways to reap the benefits of cocoa without all of the calories. For example, unsweetened cocoa adds just 20 calories per tablespoon and can be blended with Greek yogurt, banana slices and peanut butter for a delicious smoothie, or try adding unsweetened cocoa to a favorite overnight oats recipe.

Holly Doan RD, LDN, is an in-store nutritionist for Giant Food Stores. To register for a free class, call 717-909-7012 or email Holly.Doan@giantmartins.com.

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