- When consumed in moderation, dark chocolate can be a healthy dessert option for people with diabetes.
- Dark chocolate is high in flavonoids, a type of antioxidant, which may help to reduce the risk of heart disease, which can be a complication of diabetes.
- Research suggests that dark chocolate may also help to lower blood pressure.
If you have diabetes, eating dessert or “sweet treats” may seem taboo. But there are several options that you can have in moderation, some of which may even offer potential health benefits, including dark chocolate.
Dark chocolate is a type of chocolate that contains a higher proportion of cocoa solids compared to other popular forms of chocolate (milk chocolate and white chocolate).
Dark chocolate also contains less sugar, which is why it may be a better option over its counterparts for people with diabetes. Due to its high flavonoid content, dark chocolate may help to reduce the risk of heart disease and lower blood pressure, both of which can be concerns for people with diabetes.
In this article, you’ll learn more about how eating dark chocolate may benefit your health if you have type 2 diabetes, and how to incorporate it into your diet without increasing blood sugar levels.
Nourish offers personalized nutrition counseling to help you customize your diet to meet your diabetes needs. If you’re ready to take the next step in your health, consider booking a virtual appointment with a Registered Dietitian.
Can I Eat Dark Chocolate with Diabetes?
Most people with diabetes can eat dark chocolate without experiencing adverse effects on their health.
However, as with many sweets and sugary foods, it’s important to ensure that your consumption of dark chocolate is part of an overall balanced diet to limit its impacts on your blood sugar levels.
Nutrition information of dark chocolate
The nutritional properties of dark chocolate are different from those of milk chocolate and white chocolate.
Nutritional properties will also vary depending on the percentage of cacao solids present in a bar or dark chocolate product.
For example, the higher the percentage of cacao solids means less sugar is used in making the product.
Below are the general nutritional facts of two types of dark chocolate according to the United States Department of Agriculture:
100g of dark chocolate with 45-59% cocoa solids:
- 546 calories.
- 4.88g of protein.
- 31.3g of fat.
- 18.5g of saturated fat.
- 61.2g of carbohydrates.
- 7g of fiber.
- 47.9g of sugar.
100g of dark chocolate with 70-85% cocoa solids:
- 598 calories.
- 7.79g of protein.
- 42.6g of fat.
- 18.5g of saturated fat.
- 45.9g of carbohydrates.
- 10.9g of fiber.
- 24g of sugar.
As demonstrated above, both types of dark chocolate contain a similar amount of calories, but the dark chocolate example with 70-85% cacao solids contains half as much sugar and fewer carbohydrates and cholesterol than its 45-59% counterpart.
Benefits of Dark Chocolate
Several of the ingredients in dark chocolate can offer potential health benefits which are relevant for people with diabetes.
High in Flavonoids
Dark chocolate is high in flavonoids, a type of antioxidant that can be found in fruits, vegetables, and some drinks.
The higher the percentage of cacao solids, the higher the percentage of flavonoids.
Contains Dietary Polyphenols
Dark chocolate also contains dietary polyphenols. It’s one of the foods with the largest amount of this chemical chemical component.
Another study from 2015 found that patients with type 2 diabetes and high blood pressure who ate 25g of 83% dark chocolate containing 450mg of flavonoids every day for eight weeks experienced a decrease in their systolic and diastolic blood pressure readings without impacting their weight, inflammatory markers, insulin resistance, or blood sugar control.
Due to dark chocolate’s high cacao solid content, it’s known for having a robust and rich flavor, especially in comparison with milk and white chocolate.
For some people, the rich flavor of dark chocolate can help them to eat less of the sweet treat when compared to less richly flavored desserts, which can help with blood sugar management.
Lower Carbohydrate Content
Monitoring carbohydrate consumption is important to your health when you have diabetes, since the body breaks carbohydrates into glucose after consumption, which can raise blood sugar levels.
All forms of chocolate contain carbohydrates, but dark chocolate will contain fewer carbohydrates.
For example, one 100g bar of 70-85% dark chocolate contains 46.4g of carbohydrates compared to 55.56g in the same size bar of milk chocolate.
Tips for Choosing Dark Chocolate for Diabetes
There are many types of dark chocolate to choose from, including varieties with different percentages of cacao solids.
Choosing a lower sugar option will be beneficial for diabetes, which usually means opting for dark chocolate with a higher percentage of cacao solids.
Some chocolate bars and treats may also contain other ingredients, like caramel, fruits, nuts, and other flavorings.
It’s important to take these ingredients and their nutritional properties into account when selecting dark chocolate for diabetes, as some of these ingredients can increase the carbohydrate and sugar content of the product.
For that reason, you may want to review a product’s nutritional panel before purchasing to help you select one with fewer carbohydrates and sugars.
Ways to Incorporate Dark Chocolate into Your Diet
People with diabetes can safely include dark chocolate into the diet but portion sizes should be monitored. .
Here are some things to consider when adding dark chocolate into your diet:
- Aim for a maximum of one ounce, or roughly 30g, of dark chocolate per day.
- Mix dark chocolate powder with water for a lower-sugar hot chocolate drink.
- Add a small amount of dark chocolate to smoothies with fruits, veggies, and foods high in protein, like yogurt.
If you want to learn more about how to safely incorporate dark chocolate into your diet, Nourish can connect you with a Registered Dietitian specialized in diabetes management.
If you need help optimizing your diet, consider booking a virtual appointment today.
Dark chocolate is a rich source of flavonoids and polyphenols.
Because of its lower carbohydrate and sugar content when compared with other types of chocolate, it can have less impact on blood sugar levels.
Some research suggests that moderate consumption of dark chocolate can help to reduce the risk of heart disease and lower blood pressure levels, both of which are high risk for those with type 2 diabetes.
When incorporating dark chocolate into your diet, it’s important to be mindful of the quality and type of dark chocolate you’re consuming, as well as your overall portion sizes.
How a Dietitian Can Help with Diabetes
You don’t have to forgo dessert or sweet foods completely if you have diabetes. Working with a diabetes registered dietitian can help you to incorporate dark chocolate and other foods that may be beneficial to your health into your diet.
Book an appointment with Nourish and see a registered dietitian through your insurance.
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