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A matter of chocolate!

Why deny yourself the pleasure? Good for both your mood and your cardiovascular health, chocolate can very easily be integrated into your diet—as long as it’s consumed in moderation, of course.

Good fats. The types of fats contained in cacao butter, such as monounsaturated fatty acids, prevent high cholesterol, which contributes to good cardiovascular health.

Antioxidants. The flavonoids contained in dark chocolate help lower blood pressure by reducing the buildup of LDL (low-density lipoproteins)—bad cholesterol. Yet, you need to aim for a level below 2.0 mmol/L of LDL in your blood.

Flavonoids also increase insulin sensitivity and have an anti-inflammatory effect on the heart.

Quality, above all

Read labels closely, because all chocolates are different. Favour products that contain higher amounts of cocoa and the lowest possible amounts of texture agents such as palm oil, as they are bad for arteries and cholesterol levels.

Note that in addition to containing less sugar than milk chocolate, dark chocolate contains less sodium, and more fibre, iron, magnesium and caffeine.

A natural antidepressant

Eating chocolate triggers the release of dopamine and endorphins, the body’s natural opiates. It also contains trace amounts of substances like phenylethylamine—a precursor of serotonin, the key hormone of happiness.

“Diabetic chocolate”

Some low-sugar chocolates swap saccharose for maltitol, but they don’t always taste good. High in calories, they can also have laxative side effects.

As for fructose, it should be avoided since too much of this substance raises blood levels of triglycerides, which is dangerous for your heart.

In short, it might be better to treat yourself to a few squares of high-quality chocolate rather than a low-sugar, less satisfying product. By taking care to account for chocolate indulgences in your blood sugar management, you can very easily hang on to your sweet tooth!

References:
American Diabetes Association, “All About Cholesterol”: http://www.diabetes.org/are-you-at-risk/lower-your-risk/cholesterol.html. Accessed January 25, 2016.
David Spero, “Chocolate As Diabetes Medicine,” Diabetes Self-Management: http://www.diabetesselfmanagement.com/blog/chocolate-as-diabetes-medicine/. Accessed January 25, 2016.
Diabetes.co.uk, “Diabetes and Chocolate”: http://www.diabetes.co.uk/food/diabetes-and-chocolate.html. Accessed January 25, 2016.
Fédération française des diabétiques, “Chocolat et diabète: privilégiez la qualité”: http://www.afd.asso.fr/diabete-et/chocolat. Accessed January 25, 2016.
Fédération française des diabétiques, “Les bénéfices du chocolat noir pour le diabète et la santé”: http://www.afd.asso.fr/actualites/les-benefices-du-chocolat-noir-pour-le-diabete-et-la-sante-005699. Accessed January 25, 2016.
Le journal des femmes, “La santé par le chocolat”: http://sante.journaldesfemmes.com/nutrition-digestion/dossier/la-sante-par-le-chocolat/la-sante-par-le-chocolat.shtml. Accessed January 25, 2016.

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