Diabetic chocolate is often suggested as an alternative to regular chocolate for those who have to cut down on their sugar intake.
Chocolate and other high sugar foods will cause your blood sugar to rise sharply.
As a diabetic, your goal is to keep your blood sugar as controlled as possible.
But what is diabetic chocolate and is it any good?
Here is a summary of what we will cover in this article:
- Dark chocolate is full of flavonoids which can be beneficial for heart health.
- Within diabetic chocolate there is a sugar replacement such as maltitol or stevia.
- Diabetic chocolate is still full of fat and calories. This can lead to weight gain if taken in excess.
- Other alternatives to chocolate or diabetic chocolate exist such as cacao nibs.
Can diabetics eat chocolate?
Diabetics, type 2 in particular, need to take care of their lifestyle to help manage the progression of the condition.
This includes choosing the right food for diabetics.
However, it is something of a myth that people living with type 2 diabetes can’t eat chocolate.
There are plenty of benefits to eating a little chocolate, and that applies to people with diabetes as well.
Benefits of flavonoids
Flavonoids found in chocolate are known to be beneficial for heart health.
So diabetics can have regular chocolate as part of a well managed, balanced diet.
However, eating as much of whatever chocolate you like is not a good idea.
Let’s look at what you could try eating.
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What is diabetic chocolate?
Diabetic chocolate usually contains an alternative sweetener than sugar.
Otherwise, it is very similar to regular chocolate.
A chocolate alternative for diabetics and vegans is carob ‘chocolate’.
It tastes somewhat similar to chocolate.
However, carob has a low glycemic index, making it ideal for those wishing to control their blood sugar.
Diabetic chocolate and carob substitutes are now widely available from the internet.
It is important to note that diabetic chocolate should still be eaten sparingly.
Eating anything sweet often can trick the body into craving more sweet things.
Diabetic chocolates can also upset the stomach if eaten in excess, thanks to the sweeteners they use.
What chocolate should I eat?
The first thing to think about regarding chocolate is its sugar content.
Milk or white chocolates will tend to have a very high sugar content, with correspondingly lower levels of cocoa solids.
To combat this high sugar level, try chocolate with a higher level of cocoa solids.
This type of chocolate will usually contain more flavonoids, and less sugar.
The sugar in milk or white chocolates can send your blood glucose level soaring.
If milk and white chocolate are a bit too high in sugar to be ideal, what should I try?
Dark chocolate for diabetics?
Dark chocolate is usually recommended instead of the high-sugar versions of chocolate.
However, be sure to check the label for the percentage of cocoa solids.
70% cocoa or more is considered to be a beneficial level of dark chocolate cocoa solids.
Also, check the label of your dark chocolate for sugar or carbohydrate content.
Your diabetes plan is tailored to you, but keeping blood sugar spikes as low as possible is a good idea.
Keeping an eye on the carb level will also help you to manage your blood sugar levels.
You can also consider trying diabetic chocolate.
Can I eat filled chocolates?
Any ‘extras’ in chocolate tend to increase the sugar or carb levels a lot.
Caramel, toffee, fudge, praline, creamy centres and extra ingredients like marzipan or icing all add to the sugar content.
However, chocolate with plain nuts in it can be a good idea as the nuts will help to fill you up.
The fibre in nuts is a useful addition to your diet.
This fibre in the nuts will slow digestion slightly, meaning a spike in blood sugar levels will be less sharp.
How much chocolate is okay to eat with diabetes?
This is really up to you and your diabetes management plan.
However, the general idea is to limit yourself to 2 or 3 squares of 70% cocoa solids dark chocolate per day.
Much more than this can lead to spikes in blood sugar levels.
At this serving size, there is still some benefit to eating the flavonoids in dark chocolate.
You can also satisfy any chocolate cravings without upsetting blood sugar levels too greatly.
Here are a few points to note about diabetic chocolate:
- Diabetic chocolate is made in a similar way to regular chocolate
- It usually contains a sweetener instead of sugar. This might be stevia or xylitol or maltitol
- These sweeteners can have a laxative effect if taken in excess. They can also lead to cravings for sweet things
- It is usually around the same amount of fat and calories as regular chocolate.
- Sometime it is more expensive than regular chocolate
Are there alternatives to chocolate or diabetic chocolate?
Yes, there are alternatives to chocolate and diabetic chocolate.
These options are likely to satisfy a craving and also help with a balanced diet.
Try cacao nibs.
These are unrefined hunks of cacao, which when processed, becomes cocoa solids, and then chocolate.
These nibs are full of fibre, minerals and flavonoids.
They have just enough chocolatey taste to feel like a treat. They are also sugar-free.
Adding unsweetened cocoa powder to yoghurt, then sprinkling it with cacao nibs is a tasty, chocolatey treat.
It has no added sugar, and is full of minerals and fibre.
Carob is also available as a powder which can be used in place of cocoa.
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Tips for eating chocolate as a diabetic
Eating healthily as a diabetic might feel difficult.
But it is essential to manage the condition and minimise damage to your body.
A good way to do this is by achieving a balanced diet.
Designed right, this will prevent too many blood sugar spikes.
But when a chocolate craving hits, here are some tips to make the most of what you eat:
- Store your chocolate in the fridge, so it melts slowly in your mouth.
- Enjoy it slowly, savouring the experience and the flavour
- Make eating chocolate a ceremony, free of distractions and noise.
- Snap off the amount of chocolate you want to eat, then immediately put the rest away for another treat on another day.
- Don’t eat chocolate at any old time, plan to eat it after a meal. You will be less hungry and better able to savour the taste as a final part of the meal.
- Try a diabetic chocolate, carob chocolate, or a chocolate alternative like cacao nibs or homemade drinking cocoa
And read our other guides if you want to know what causes diabetes and how to spot the early signs of diabetes.
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