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Dark chocolate will win your heart

Background

Cacao beans are the seeds of the cacao tree, whose scientific name — Theobroma cacao — means “food of the gods”.[1] It does its name justice, as we are many to worship the beans’ final product: chocolate. While most chocolate is too low in cacao and high in sugar to be called healthy, the darker variants and pure cacao might have some benefits, especially for preventing CVD, due to their high flavonoid content.[2]

The study

This was a meta-analysis of 8 randomized controlled trials of 433 type 2 diabetics, total. It focused on the effect of cacao or dark chocolate on CVD risk. The primary outcomes were blood lipids, fasting blood glucose, and blood pressure. The included trials lasted from 2 to 12 weeks and used daily cacao doses ranging from 1 to 45 grams.

The results

Cacao consistently lowered fasting glucose by 7 mg/dL and LDL-C by 15 mg/dL (on average). These effects were stronger with daily doses larger than 2.5 grams and in participants younger than 65 years. Baseline BMI also affected the results, as the participants with a BMI higher than 30 (the threshold of obesity) responded more to cacao’s effect on fasting glucose and less on its effect on LDL-C. Total triglycerides, blood pressure, and HDL-C did not change consistently.

Note

For cardiovascular health, the standard daily dose of cocoa polyphenols is 1 gram, which you can get by eating about 30 grams of cocoa powder or 40 grams of dark chocolate with a 75% cocoa content. Neither milk chocolate nor white chocolate is a good source of polyphenols.

There are 15 more summaries in the Diabetes & Blood Sugar category for July 2021 including ...

  • Saffron in type 2 diabetes management
  • The chemical structure of starchy foods affects glycemia
  • A carbohydrate-reduced high-protein diet improves CVD risk factors in people with T2D

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