February 6, 2009

Why diabetics should eat cocoa

If you like cocoa, but are afraid to consume it because you're diabetic, I have great news for you. You can eat it and you don't have to worry about your blood sugar.

As you may know, cocoa is rich in flavanols, which can protect your circulation. And two new studies show that the more you eat, the better.

In the first study, researchers gave 10 medicated diabetic patients a single dose of cocoa. The cocoa contained increasing doses of flavanols (75 mg, 371 mg, and 963 mg). All doses improved a key blood parameter called Flow Mediated Dilation (FMD). It is a crucial marker of endothelial cell function. Higher doses did better than the lower doses.

The researchers in the second study followed 41 medicated diabetic patients. They divided the patients into two groups. They gave the first group flavanol-rich cocoa (321 mg flavanols). They gave the second (control) group a nutrient-matched control (25 mg of flavanols). They gave each solution three times a day for 30 days. Those in the flavanols-rich cocoa supplemented group had a wonderful 30% increase in FMD compared to the control group.

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Here are two studies confirming the activity of cocoa phytochemicals and their incredible protective effects. Smokers, diabetics, and those with vascular disease all have FMD problems. Cocoa may help these patients a lot.

My preference and "weakness" is organic dark chocolate. Dark chocolate has more flavanols than other forms of chocolate. And you can get organic cocoa beans online.

If you prefer to drink store-bought cocoa, just watch out for the total sweetener amount. And be sure that the sweetener is not from fructose or any chemical product. You might do yourself more harm than good. Pure cane sugar will affect your blood sugar, but at least it doesn't have other problematic chemicals. If you cannot tolerate any sugar, consider eating a few cocoa beans daily.

There are stevia-sweetened dark chocolate bars available on the Internet and in some specialty food stores. But they are expensive. Search for the best quality and price.

Yours for better health and medical freedom,

Ref: "Sustained benefits in vascular function through flavanol-containing cocoa in medicated diabetic patients a double-masked, randomized, controlled trial," Balzer J, Kelm M, et al, J Am Coll Cardiol, 2008; 51(22): 2141-9.

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