Diabetes and Chocolate: A Sweet Combination

Diabetes and Chocolate: A Sweet Combination

chocolateMany patients with type 1 and type 2 diabetes live with the belief that “people with diabetes can’t eat chocolate” but is this true or just a myth? Managing blood sugar levels is important to patients with type 1 and type 2 diabetes. Being cautious of what you eat has become routine. Sweets such as chocolate can increase blood sugar levels so the natural thought is to simply avoid them. However, what happens when you are faced with a craving for chocolate and you have diabetes?

Chocolate is known for its sweet taste however it does have flavonoids that have health benefits to it. There are three different types of chocolate available; milk, white, and dark. The type of chocolate can make a difference. Dark chocolate has been shown to have a variety of health benefits such as improving blood flow, lowering blood pressure, improving brain function, and contains a powerful source of antioxidants. Dark chocolate has more flavonoids then milk chocolate; white chocolate has no flavonoids.

Whether you decide on dark, milk, or white chocolate the true key is portion size. In addition to watching the amount of chocolate you consume you should also exercise and make healthy choices for your main meals of the day. Having a small amount of chocolate every so often is not forbidden for patients with diabetes.  Another option is to save chocolate for special occasions such as holidays or birthdays.

Despite chocolate raising your blood sugars it is not a good option to treat hypoglycemia. Since chocolate also contains fat it takes longer to raise your blood glucose than other options such as orange juice, non-diet soda and glucose tablets (see http://diabetesdailypost.com/understanding-the-management-of-low-blood-sugar-hypoglycemia/ on how to manage hypoglycemia).  Avoid chocolate for this purpose.

When it comes to having chocolate as a snack, patients with diabetes can have small portions in moderation.  It is not calorie free and can lead to weight gain if overeaten.  If you don’t have a preference to which type of chocolate you prefer, consider enjoying dark chocolate on occasion since it contains antioxidants, may improve blood flow, and may lower blood pressure.

This Article is Brought to you By Our Guest Staff Writers:
Rachelle St Fleur PharmD candidate 2017
Jennifer Goldman, PharmD, CDE, BC-ADM, FCCP Clinical Pharmacist, Well Life Medical

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