The existence of chocolate dates as far back as 1900 BCE, and it used to only be available in Mesoamerica. Not only that, it existed in a form quite different from the ones we are familiar with now. Presently, the variety of chocolate has grown so much, it could fill up shelves after shelves. Spoilt for choice, how do you know which is the best chocolate for diabetics? Fret not! Here’s the lowdown on all the chocolatey goodness.
Dark, milk or white?
Here are the three most common blends of chocolate: dark, milk and white. But what constitutes each blend of chocolate? Here are the basics:
- Dark Chocolate — Made with more cocoa solids (i.e cocoa mass and cocoa butter) than milk products and sugar. Dark chocolate could contain anywhere between 35% to 100% of cocoa solids. It’s usually dark and bitter due to the high levels of cocoa.
- Milk Chocolate — Contains more milk products than cocoa solids, it’s sweeter and creamier than dark chocolate. The concentration of cocoa solids could be less than 35%.
- White Chocolate — It’s actually not classified as a genuine chocolate! This is due to the fact that white chocolate does not contain any cocoa solids (powder) at all. Instead, it contains cocoa butter, milk solids, milk fats and sweeteners.
So…which is the best chocolate for diabetics?
Chocolate may not really be the healthiest snack for people with diabetes. But the best chocolate for diabetics would be dark chocolate. And here is why.
Dark chocolate has slightly fewer calories
Comparing 100g of each blend of chocolate, dark chocolate (with 60% cocoa) has the least amount of calories. It is 21kcal less than milk chocolate and 28kcal less than white chocolate. Hence, if you’re watching your weight, it’s better to nibble on some dark chocolate instead.
Dark chocolate has slightly less sugar
Both milk and white chocolate have sugar as its first ingredient, while dark chocolate usually lists cocoa solids/mass first. Not forgetting, both white and milk chocolates have more sugar or sweetener and cream added to them. However, this does not mean that it is alright to eat more dark chocolate instead as portion control is important.
Dark chocolate has the most antioxidants
Cocoa is one of the richest sources of antioxidants. Since dark chocolate has the most cocoa, it has the highest amount of antioxidants. The types of antioxidants found in dark chocolate are flavonoids and flavonols. Fruits, vegetables, green tea and red wine also contains such antioxidants. In fact, dark chocolate contains 8x the antioxidants of strawberries!
Milk chocolate contains a lower amount of cocoa, that’s why it has less antioxidants. Also, the milk in milk chocolate binds to antioxidants, causing fewer antioxidants to be available. White chocolate has no antioxidants because it does not contain any cocoa solids at all!
What are the health benefits of dark chocolate?
Due to the antioxidants found in dark chocolate, it provides some health benefits that other chocolates don’t. Some of them are:
- lower blood pressure among people with hypertension.
- increase the levels of HDL, also known as ‘good cholesterol’.
- decrease the levels of LDL, also known as ‘bad cholesterol’.
- reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease.
- improve mood and pleasure.
What should you look for when buying dark chocolate?
So, after reading this post, you might be tempted to snack on a piece of chocolate. Here’s what you need to look for:
- The darker the better! The most beneficial dark chocolate has more than 60% cocoa solids. It also means it would have more antioxidants.
- Made with cocoa butter instead of palm or coconut oils. Cocoa butter has less effect on cholesterol than palm or coconut oils.
- Avoid those made with ‘hydrogenated’ or ‘partially hydrogenated’ oils. These contain trans fats and can raise cholesterol levels and risk of cardiovascular disease.
Of course, when it comes to snacks and desserts, moderation is key! Even dark chocolate contains a lot of calories, saturated fat, and some sugar. To gain the benefits of dark chocolate without weight gain or adverse effects, eat roughly 28g (or one row of a family block) of it daily. So, chocolate for diabetics is a go, but best for it to be dark chocolate!
For a quick glance of all the information in this blog post, check out the infographic below!