Healthy Dark Chocolate continues to garner front page status as more and more scientific research studies on the health benefits of dark chocolate publish their findings, and this is great news for current and potential at risk diabetics. Chocolate, that universally popular comfort food, has for years meant only one thing for diabetics . risk! For a diabetic indulging in a chocolate treat, physiological effects needed to be monitored and action taken if so indicated. For the informed diabetic, that situation is changing, and dark chocolate may once again be a worry free treat as well as an extremely healthy part of ones daily diet.
Before moving into the clinical aspects of dark chocolate, let's define what is "HEALTHY" dark chocolate in relation to the diabetic. The raw cocoa bean is a super rich source of antioxidants; specifically, a group of antioxidants known as 'flavanols'. In fact, raw cocoa contains an astonishing 10% antioxidant concentration per mass, the highest concentration level of antioxidants in any known food. Flavanols are the primary reason for cocoa products being very cardiovascular system friendly.
As is the case with many natural foods, the antioxidant values of the raw cocoa fall considerably during the chocolate making process. After fermentation and drying, the cocoa beans, in almost all cases, are roasted in high heat and pressure. Just as with most fruits and vegetables that you are familiar with, this cooking process destroys many of the original beneficial nutrients. The good news is that even after the antioxidant loss through the roasting and pressing process, this bitter cocoa powder STILL has more than twice the antioxidant rating than the nearest rated fruit .
"prunes". The manufacturer now will add sugar, emulsifiers, oils, and other ingredients to create the desired taste and texture for their product. So, how does dark chocolate, rich in flavanols, help your body do battle against diabetes? Primarily, these antioxidants counteract insulin resistance, a serious risk factor. Insulin resistance is a serious condition which can multiply your chances of developing diabetes and heart problems. This condition prevents your cells from effectively turning blood sugar into energy, so the excess sugar accumulates in your body. This condition is known as pre-diabetes.
By introducing a consistent, high quality source of the flavanols found in dark chocolate, insulin function is improved, blood sugar is better controlled, and the threat of blood sugar build up and pre-diabetes is lessened. These hard working flavanols provide another very important benefit for the diabetic. Studies have shown that they are very effective in helping to keep blood vessels healthy and improving blood flow. Circulatory problems are a very real risk for the diabetic, and extreme cases can result in necessary loss of an extremity.
Numerous studies have indicated that flavanols may exert significant vascular protection not only from their antioxidant properties, but also from increased nitric oxide availability. Nitric oxide, or "NO", is a critical component in healthy blood flow and blood pressure control, two very important factors in controlling diabetes. Studies have shown that antioxidants in cocoa help the body process NO which helps prevent fatty substances in the blood from oxidizing and narrowing the arteries, leading to high blood pressure, another serious diabetes risk factor. In part 2 of "Healthy Dark Chocolate and Your Diabetic Health", we will look at several case studies that clearly define the potential positive impact of healthy dark chocolate for the current or pre-diabetic, and explore how to determine which Chocolate products are in fact "Healthy".
The author lives in beautiful Hilo, Hawaii, and became intrigued with the subject of Chocolate being referred to as "Healthy". For more information regarding what constitutes "HEALTHY" Chocolate, download the author's FREE report, "Healthy Dark Chocolate For Life"