Occasional Chocolate May Support Diabetes Management
Those who ate chocolate rich in cocoa solids and plant nutrients experienced improvements in cholesterol levels without significant changes in blood sugar
Research has shown that eating "heart-healthy" chocolate may protect against high blood pressure and ultimately heart disease. Now a study in Diabetes Medicine reports on the benefits of chocolate in people with type 2 diabetes--a population at higher risk for heart disease--and found that those who ate chocolate rich in cocoa solids and plant nutrients experienced significant improvements in HDL ("good") cholesterol levels without significant changes in blood sugar control.
Chocolate raises good cholesterol
People with type 2 diabetes are typically told to avoid sweets, but research has shown that certain chocolate rich in cocoa solids and polyphenols (plant compounds that have health benefits) may affect blood sugar less than certain other foods such as potatoes or bread. This study looked at whether or not eating chocolate could help raise HDL cholesterol levels--another goal in preventing heart disease.
In this small study, 12 people with type 2 diabetes were randomly assigned to receive 45 grams of high-polyphenol chocolate (containing 85% cocoa solids) or low-polyphenol chocolate containing cocoa butter alone (containing no nonfat cocoa solids) once a day for 8 weeks. Participants continued their usual diabetes, high blood pressure, and lipid-lowering medications.
Results showed that people who ate the high-polyphenol chocolate had a significant increase in HDL cholesterol, and no significant change in weight or blood sugar control was seen in either group.
The study authors' point out: "This shows a potential for reduction in cardiovascular risk and combined with a lack of any deleterious effects on weight, markers of inflammation, insulin resistance or glycemic control. This appears to occur even in subjects treated with lipid-lowering therapies, indicating a beneficial additive effect through an alternate pathway."
Putting it in perspective
(Diabet Med 2010;27:1318-21)
Jane Hart, MD, board-certified in internal medicine, serves in a variety of professional roles including consultant, journalist, and educator. Dr. Hart, a Clinical Instructor at Case Medical School in Cleveland, Ohio, writes extensively about health and wellness and a variety of other topics for nationally recognized organizations, websites, and print publications. Sought out for her expertise in the areas of integrative and preventive medicine, she is frequently quoted by national and local media. Dr. Hart is a professional lecturer for healthcare professionals, consumers, and youth and is a regular corporate speaker.