Dark chocolate may be good for diabetics

October 20, 2010

A group of researchers from the University of Hull in the United Kingdom and the Hull York Medical School have found that dark chocolate may have significant health benefits for people with type 2 diabetes. According to the study published in Diabetic Medicine, HDL (“good” cholesterol) is improved and overall cholesterol balance is enhanced when patients consume 45 g of dark chocolate each day.

This is the first study to report on the effects of giving chocolate to individuals with type 2 diabetes over a period of 16 weeks. The patients were given chocolate either with or without a high cocoa content. The dark chocolate contained 85% cocoa solids compared to the placebo that contained no cocoa solids but was dyed the same color as the dark chocolate. Individual 15 g foil wrapped bars were provided and the volunteers were asked to consume one bar three times a day. The patients were advised not to consume any other chocolate for the duration of the study and they were instructed to make no changes to their diet and lifestyle.

“People with type 2 diabetes are twice as likely to develop cardiovascular disease and since one of the main contributory factors to heart disease is a low level of HDL or ‘good’ cholesterol, the findings that dark chocolate can improve this means the results of this study are hugely significant,” said Steve Atkin, Professor of Diabetes and Endocrinology and lead author of the study.

He concluded that: “Chocolate with a high cocoa content should be included in the diet of individuals with type 2 diabetes as part of a sensible, balanced approach to diet and lifestyle. This study demonstrates that it can offer a potential reduction in cardiovascular risk without detrimental risks on weight, insulin resistance, or glycaemic control.”

However, according to the BBC, the organization Diabetes UK has some concerns that the message would be interpreted as a “green light” to eat more chocolate. They pointed out that even bars with the highest levels of cocoa solids would contain high levels of fat and sugar, and could end up doing more harm than good.

Hull study press release

Study abstract

BBC article