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Chocolate and type 2 diabetes

Being told you have diabetes can come as a shock. Not only do you now have a condition that needs monitoring and daily medication, you’re also looking at some of your favourite foods in a very different light. But not all treats are off limits, and chocolate and type 2 diabetes isn’t necessarily the no-go you might think. 

Can you eat chocolate with type 2 diabetes?

According to Diabetes UK, “you can eat chocolate, just in moderation and not too often”. Everyone should aim to eat a healthy balanced diet, but this is particularly important when you have diabetes. Milk chocolate bars are usually high in saturated fat and sugar, so they should be seen as occasional treats. Plus, they can raise your blood sugar, so it might be best to avoid milk chocolate if your blood sugar is already high

Dark chocolate is a much healthier option, whether you have diabetes or not. We’ll come to why that is in a minute. 

Sugar and diabetes

It used to be believed that people with diabetes should never eat sugary food. However, we now know that’s not the case. Chocolate and other snacks can be enjoyed as part of a healthy lifestyle, but it’s best to eat them in moderation.

On the hunt for a sugar-free snack that’s rather more satisfying than celery? Check out our Roasted Cacao Nibs. Not only are they sugar-free, they’re also a great source of fibre, iron, potassium and calcium.

What kind of chocolate can a diabetic eat?

Diabetics can eat any kind of chocolate, in small quantities. Diabetics and non-diabetics alike should aim for a healthy, balanced diet that includes a maximum of 30g of sugar a day. If that sounds a lot, remember that sugar is in many everyday foods, from bread to baked beans. 

A KitKat Chunky, for example, has up to 20g of sugar – two thirds of the maximum amount. So, to stay healthy, it’s best to enjoy milk chocolate as an occasional treat or switch to lower-sugar dark chocolate. Which brings us to…

Best chocolate for type 2 diabetes

While you can enjoy any kind of chocolate as a treat when you have diabetes, dark chocolate is by far the healthiest option:

  • Dark chocolate has far lower amounts of sugar per 100g than milk chocolate. 
  • It has a more intense flavour, so you’re usually satisfied with a smaller amount. 
  • It has higher levels of cocoa, which has numerous health benefits

Not keen on dark chocolate? Make the transition gradually. Milk chocolate has a minimum of 20% cocoa, while most dark chocolate is 70% up. So try switching to a 30% cocoa bar to start with. Gradually increase the percentage of cocoa until you’re comfortable eating dark chocolate. 

As the cocoa percentage increases, the sugar percentage usually decreases (although it’s not an exact science). Our Pure Cacao Melts are 100% sugar-free and perfect for adding a rich chocolate flavour to cakes, brownies and other treats. 

Can I only eat ‘diabetic chocolate?

Some foods are marketed specifically for people with diabetes. However, Diabetes UK doesn’t recommend diabetic chocolate. It’s usually just as high in fat and calories as regular chocolate, and can still raise your blood sugar levels. 

Instead, choose a good quality dark chocolate, which is high in antioxidants and low in sugar.

Does chocolate increase your risk of diabetes?

Believe it or not, the opposite is true. Some studies have found that people who never or rarely eat chocolate may have a higher chance of developing type 2 diabetes

However, before you rush out to buy a multipack of chocolate treats, there are a couple of things to bear in mind.

While type 1 diabetes isn’t linked to your diet or other lifestyle choices, type 2 is more common in people who are overweight. Sugary foods are often high in calories, and if you eat more calories that you burn off, you’re likely to put weight on, which may mean you’re more likely to get diabetes. 

So, our suggestion is to swap to a good quality dark chocolate

Is cocoa good for diabetics?

Cocoa has a multitude of health benefits. It’s rich in antioxidants (particularly polyphenols), as well as protein, fibre, calcium and other essential vitamins and minerals. Together, these may help to:

  • Promote digestion
  • Lower your blood pressure
  • Keep your heart healthy
  • And a whole lot of other health benefits!

Some studies have even suggested that dark chocolate could help the body to use insulin more effectively.

However, chocolate bars often contain low levels of cocoa and high levels of sugar and saturated fat. So, if you’re wondering, “Is dark chocolate good for type 2 diabetes?” our recommendation is to switch to dark chocolate or pure cacao to fully reap the benefits. 

Cocoa and weight loss

If you’re diabetic or pre-diabetic and classed as being medically overweight, there are a lot of benefits to shedding some pounds. Losing weight is far from easy, but you’re much more likely to stick to a healthy diet if it includes room for your favourite foods. A highly restrictive diet is very difficult to follow for any length of time. 

And the good news is that dark chocolate might even help your weight loss journey

You can find lots of guidance on what to eat to lose weight on the NHS’s website, where you can also download a free weight loss plan. 

If you’re looking for healthy snacks to replace biscuits and chocolate bars, you can’t go wrong with our Chocolate Coated Cacao Nibs. These Great Taste Award winners are fabulously crunchy and flavoursome. 

Baking recipes for diabetics

Looking for healthy treats? We’ve got lots to choose from. Our suggestion is to choose snacks that are: 

  • Low in saturated fats
  • High in protein to fill you up for longer
  • Intensely flavoured so you don’t need a big portion to feel satisfied
  • Packed with health benefits

Here are three recipes to get you started:

Chocolate Almond Date Bites

These naturally healthy snacks are rich in protein, fibre, iron and antioxidants. They also taste great, are quick and easy to make and keep fresh for a week in the fridge. 

Chocolate Truffles

While these chocolate truffles aren’t low calorie, they’re packed with a whole lot of flavour, so you only need one to keep your taste buds happy. They’re also surprisingly easy to make, and they’re vegan. (You’d never know that though, as the Oat Mylk Chocolate Chips and coconut milk make them super creamy.)

Chocolate Crunchy Quinoa Bars

Crunchy, healthy and oh-so-tasty, these bars are packed with superfoods. 

Just remember, if you’re trying to lose weight, you’ll want to reduce the amount of cakes, biscuits and similar treats that you eat. But you don’t need to banish them from your life completely.