Cocoa May Help Control Diabetes Symptoms

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Cocoa for Diabetes?

Yep! There’s more to managing your disease than finding the best glucose meter price. Diet and nutrition play a vital role in managing not just your overall health, but diabetes itself. Knowing the nutrition behind your dietary choices can help you keep your disease in check.

Smart Nutrition is the Key to Diabetes Management.

If you’re paying attention to what you eat and checking your blood sugar regularly with blood testing meters, you can keep your disease under control with minimal disruption to your daily life. Make the wrong dietary decisions, and you could wind up in the hospital – or worse.

So pay attention: Just because we’re talking about cocoa doesn’t mean you should go out and buy a bag of Hershey’s kisses. The high sugar, low cocoa contents of processed chocolate candies (or hot chocolate, or chocolate cake…) won’t have the goods you’re looking for, but they can send your blood sugar skyrocketing dangerously.

The Symptoms

Atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of life-threatening complications and deaths associated with type 2 diabetes, according to the book Diabetes in America (2007). If you have diabetes, you are at least twice as likely as the normal population to suffer heart disease or a stroke, according to the National Diabetes Information Clearinghouse.

The Studies

Doctors and researchers across the country have invested extensive time and resources in a search to minimize these life-threatening symptoms of diabetes. In the past several years, research has indicated that cocoa can help mitigate the effects of cardiovascular disease in diabetics, improving function at the cellular level and prolonging healthy life spans.

The New England Journal of Medicine

Back in 1998, doctors studied a huge sample, by medical-study-standards, of non-diabetic vs. diabetic heart disease patients over a seven year period. They found that people with diabetes had a comparable risk of heart attack to non-diabetics who had suffered a previous heart attack – and that’s a very high element of risk. These findings prompted researchers to aggressively search for heart disease treatments and preventatives that are safe for diabetics.

The Journal of the American College of Cardiology 

In 2008, researchers at the Cardiovascular Research Institute at the WashingtonHospitalCenterpublished a diabetes study exploring the medical dosage and chemical composition of cocoa that would be needed to be effective in preventing or reversing the symptoms of cardiovascular disease in patients with type 2 diabetes. The researchers found that regular ingestion of a specified amount of flavonol in flavonoid-rich cocoa (FRC) yielded predictable increases in cardiovascular function and prolonged cardiovascular health in diabetes patients. 

The American Heart Association’s Contemporary Reviews in Cardiovascular Medicine

In 2009, researchers released an excellent document, Cocoa and Cardiovascular Health, detailing the many possible mechanisms by which cocoa seems to affect cardiovascular health, insulin resistance, and blood platelet function, among others. This in-depth meta-study synthesized the state of medical knowledge on this (quite specific) issue and spurred further research.

New Directions 

In the November 2011 issue of Clinical Translational Science, researchers found the flavonol epicatechin to positively impact sub-cellular chemistry by supporting mitochondrial structure and improving cellular respiration. In other words, cells use energy and function better in the presence of epicatechin.

Within a month, the European Heart Journal published Cardiovascular effects of flavonol-rich chocolate in patients with heart failure. The study found flavonoid-rich chocolate to improve cardiovascular function in individuals who had congestive heart failure, while other forms of chocolate did not. 

Cocoa for Diabetes Management: Takeaways 

At the end of the day, the dosage and the background knowledge are what will make this treatment effective. A Mounds bar won’t do it, folks. You’re looking for a particular type of low-sugar, high-flavonoid cocoa supplement that can assist your cardiovascular system in performing at a higher level. 

  • Talk to your doctor to find out what supplement you should take or what kind of semi-processed chocolate to buy in order to keep yourself healthy.
  • Do your research and understand how flavonoid-rich chocolate can affect your body.
  • DON’T go out and buy chocolate bars and expect to get anything more than a blood sugar spike for your trouble.

You’re going to need your doctor’s guidance with this one. And when you do find the right supplement, it may do even more for you than that “free meter for diabetes” offer you’ve been eyeing.

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