Type 2 Diabetes – Chocolate and Cholesterol!

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Finally there is good news for chocolate-loving Type 2 diabetics. Eating chocolate with high polyphenol content might help prevent heart attacks! The results of a study designed to discover the affect of chocolate consumption on cholesterol, inflammation, weight and blood sugar control in diabetics will be published in November, 2010 in the journal Diabetes Medicine.

Researchers at the University of Hull in the United Kingdom enrolled 12 Type 2 diabetics into the study. The volunteers were randomly assigned to receive 45 grams of chocolate either with or without polyphenols. After 16 weeks, Type 2 diabetics consuming chocolate with polyphenols showed:

  • an increase in high-density lipoproteins
  • the good cholesterol, and
  • a decrease in total cholesterol, meaning that low-density cholesterol, or LDL, was decreased

Weight, C-reactive protein (associated with inflammation), and blood sugar control stayed the same in these Type 2 diabetics. The volunteers who ate chocolate without polyphenols remained the same also. The researchers then concluded that weight, inflammation, and blood sugar were unaffected by the high-polyphenol chocolate, but cholesterol was lowered.

According to the Hershey’s people, chocolate, and specifically, the cocoa, or non-fat portion of chocolate, is high in the same anti-oxidants found in many fruits, vegetables, tea and wine. This is not surprising when you realize that it comes from a plant. The anti-oxidants are the polyphenols mentioned in the study above. While consuming unlimited amounts of chocolate products, especially those high in added fats and sugar, is clearly not healthy chocolate or cocoa can help the body to repair itself and heal the damage from molecules called free radicals.

The National Institute of Health in Washington DC, United States, defines a free radical as a molecule or ion with a free electron, which makes it highly reactive and capable of stealing electrons from other molecules. Most free radicals contain at least one atom of oxygen.They are implicated in tissue damage callused by radiation, environmental chemicals and aging. Anti-oxidants such as polyphenols receive the extra oxygen with its extra electron, preventing the free radical from doing damage to the body’s other molecules.

When buying chocolate products, check the label for the polyphenol content. Again, according to Hersheys.com:

  • dark chocolate has a slightly higher antioxidant content than blueberries
  • cocoa has slightly less anti-oxidant content than blueberries but rates higher than pecans, cranberries, cherries,
  • walnuts, raspberries and prunes
  • milk chocolate ranks lower than those foods already mentioned, but is still higher in anti-oxidants than
  • red grapes, almonds and raisins

Discuss with your doctor or nutritionist how to make a moderate consumption of chocolate or cocoa a part of a healthy diet that will help to keep bad cholesterol levels down.

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