Chocolate with 70 – 85% cocoa is called dark chocolate. Dark chocolate is loaded with nutrients that can positively affect your health. It has a high level of magnesium, copper, iron and a fairly good level of potassium, phosphorus, zinc, and selenium. It also contains stimulants like caffeine and theobromine. It is a powerful source of antioxidants like polyphenols, flavanols, and catechins. The oxygen radical absorption capacities of the antioxidants are very high. Even though high in nutrients it has a fairly good amount of calories too. So 15-30g of carbohydrate in one chocolate snack is recommended.
- Lowers blood pressure – The flavanols in dark chocolate help in lowering blood pressure by stimulating the endothelial lining of arteries. As a result, nitric oxide is produced which sends impulses to the arteries to relax. Thus it lowers the resistance of blood flow and reduces hypertension.
- Improves your lipid profile – Dark chocolate can improve your HDL (good cholesterol) levels and protect LDL (bad cholesterol) from oxidation. Thus it can have a protective effect on the heart. LDL gets usually oxidized due to its reaction with free radicals. These oxidized LDL particles can damage other tissues, especially the arterial walls. The antioxidants in dark chocolate can penetrate into the bloodstream and reduces the oxidative damage of LDL.
- Improves brain function – The high flavanol levels can help in improving brain functions. The caffeine and theobromine in it are responsible for improving memory and cognitive functions.
- Regulates blood sugar levels – Dark chocolate has the ability to lower insulin resistance which is otherwise a rich factor for diabetes and metabolic syndrome. The antioxidants in the dark chocolate will help to use insulin more effectively and thus help in lowering blood sugar levels naturally. Usually, Type-II diabetes is associated with extracellular and intracellular Magnesium deficits. This is mainly due to reduced Mg intake and increased excretion rate through frequent urination. The reabsorption of magnesium in the renal glomeruli is reduced. As dark chocolate has about 96% of Magnesium (Recommended Dietary Allowances) in RDA, it is especially beneficial in reducing insulin resistance in diabetes.
Dark chocolate is one of the best dessert options for diabetes. Choose a bar of dark chocolate with 70-85% of cocoa. Darker the chocolate, lesser the sugar content. It is still loaded with calories and is easy to overeat. So keep a check on the quantity you eat. 1 to 2 squares (15-30g) can be taken as a sweet treat after lunch. Limit dark chocolates that contain toffee, caramel or other sugary add-ins. Opting for a bar with nuts like almonds is safer bet because their satiating effect is better.