Is Chocolate Diabetic-Friendly?
If you're diabetic and you've got a sweet tooth, it can be hard to find a diabetic-friendly treat that'll satisfy your cravings. It feels like everything is off-limits, and whatever is available doesn't quite cut it. That's why you'll be delighted to learn that chocolate is still on the table even for people with diabetes!
But don't get too excited just yet. Before you go and buy the first chocolate bar you see, there are a few things you need to know about chocolate to ensure that your blood sugar levels stay dialed in.
In this article, we'll explain everything you need to know about eating chocolate in accordance with a diabetic diet. We'll talk about how chocolate affects your blood sugar, the different kinds of chocolate out there, and the right type of chocolate for people with diabetes. We'll even share where you can get the best diabetic-friendly chocolate on the market.
How Does Chocolate Affect Blood Sugar?
Chocolate can have both negative and positive effects on your blood sugar and overall health. Whether the effects are good or bad highly depends on the kind of chocolate you eat.
If you're eating chocolate that is rich in flavonoids, for example, you can gain tons of health benefits. Flavonoids are naturally found in plants, fruits, and veggies. The cocoa plant (from which chocolate is derived) contains tons of flavonoids. These flavonoids are rich in antioxidants that are known to lower blood pressure levels and help reduce the risk of heart disease 1.
If you are pre-diabetic, meaning you have high blood sugar but are not yet diagnosed with diabetes, you still have a good chance of avoiding diabetes altogether. If you've been depriving yourself of sweets to avoid becoming diabetic, you can go ahead and turn to chocolate! By eating chocolate rich in flavonoids you can actually decrease your risk of getting diabetes.
In fact, these antioxidants have the potential to improve your insulin sensitivity 2. This is crucial to help control blood sugar levels in your body. So - yes, diabetic chocolate is actually good for you. But, don't take this as an excuse for you to eat copius amounts of chocolate carelessly. Remember, if you want to keep yourself healthy, moderation is still key. A few treats here and there are totally fine, but don't overdo it.
Eating too much chocolate will cause your blood sugar to spike, especially if you eat chocolate with a high-glycemic index or load. A glycemic index is used to determine how likely something is going to cause your blood sugar levels to rise. So if you're eating chocolate with a high-glycemic index it won't be that beneficial for you.
That said, what are the different types of chocolate anyway? And how do they differ from one another? Let's take a look.
The Different Types of Chocolate
There are three different types of chocolate—dark chocolate, milk chocolate, and white chocolate. To fully understand the difference between the three, you first need to know how chocolate is made.
Chocolate is derived from the cocoa beans of the cocoa plant. The cocoa beans taste and look nothing like chocolate when they're first harvested from the tree. They have to go through a long process of fermentation first. Afterward, the beans are roasted and their shells are removed to reveal the cocoa nibs.
At this stage, cocoa nibs can already be eaten and are considered diabetic-friendly. But most manufacturers prefer to ground the cocoa nibs and blend them with cocoa butter. The blending process turns the solid cocoa bean into liquid chocolate known as chocolate liquor.
This chocolate liquor is then mixed with other ingredients such as sugar and milk to get different types of chocolate. Each type of chocolate differentiates in the amount of sugar and milk that has been added into them. Here's a better explanation of the difference between the three:
Dark chocolate has the highest amount of cocoa in it and the least amount of added sugar and milk. Usually, the amount of chocolate is at least 70% while the sugar and milk make up the remaining 30% or less of the chocolate bar. You can even find pure dark chocolate with no milk added whatsoever. Dairy-free chocolate is generally regarded as the healthiest form.
Because it has more cocoa in it and fewer added ingredients it also has higher amounts of flavonoids. As we already know, these flavonoids are responsible for all the health benefits of chocolate. The more flavonoids there are in the chocolate, the better it is for your health. This is also why people prefer dark chocolate over other types of chocolate.
Milk chocolate is usually at most 50% raw chocolate and at least 50% milk and sugar. Some manufacturers add more than 50% milk and sugar to make their chocolate really sweet. Milk chocolate isn't the most ideal type of chocolate for people who are pre-diabetic or already have diabetes.
Higher sugar and milk content means more carbohydrates. People with diabetes have a hard time processing carbohydrates and it may cause their blood sugar levels to spike.
There is plenty of debate whether white chocolate should even be considered chocolate because it contains no cocoa powder. Unlike milk and dark chocolate, white chocolate is only a mixture of milk, sugar, and cocoa butter.
Similar to milk chocolate, white chocolate has a higher carbohydrate content which also makes it non-diabetic-friendly since it can increase your blood sugar levels.
Which Type of Chocolate Is Best for People With Diabetes?
After differentiating the three types of chocolate, it's pretty clear which one is best for people who are pre-diabetic or have diabetes—and that is dark chocolate.
Dark chocolate has the least amount of sugar and milk, making it more diabetic-friendly than the other two. When you compare the glycemic index of each chocolate, dark chocolate has the lowest at 23, meaning it is less likely to cause a spike in your blood sugar.
Milk chocolate, on the other hand, has a glycemic index of 42. Both chocolates are actually considered to be within safe levels because their glycemic index is below 55. But with milk chocolate, you are more likely to get a spike in your blood sugar even after just a few pieces. Not to mention milk chocolate tends to have higher levels of saturated fat which is also bad for people with diabetes.
Dark chocolate has the upper hand here. Nutritionists advise that you get a higher percentage of dark chocolate, at least 70% is best. The higher the percent of your dark chocolate the more health benefits you gain. Still, the only type of chocolate you should really be looking for as a diabetic is 100% sugar-free chocolate - and does this even exist?
Is There Really Such A Thing As Diabetic Chocolate?
Yes, technically diabetic chocolate is a thing and it is essentially sugar-free chocolate. But, sometimes they are still sweetened naturally or with sugar alcohols, artificial sweeteners, and natural sweeteners.
Sugar alcohols such as xylitol, erythritol, and maltitol have very low calories and carbohydrates, making them great sugar substitutes for people with diabetes. The only problem with sugar alcohols is that they tend to have a laxative effect on people.
Artificial sweeteners such as allulose are common in diabetic chocolate. These artificial sweeteners are said to be 70% sweeter than regular milk chocolate - without having any effects on blood sugar.
Stevia and yacon syrup are examples of natural sweeteners and are also commonly used in diabetic chocolate. If you're truly looking for the best sugar-free chocolate, stick with natural sweeteners.
Also, keep in mind that some chocolates will be advertised as diabetic chocolate solely for the fact that they use sugar substitutes. However, some of them may still be high in carbohydrates and saturated fats which can also have negative effects on people with diabetes.
So, always make sure to read the nutrition facts of the chocolate you're buying. That's the only way to know whether your chocolate is truly diabetic-friendly.
More Tips On How To Safely Add Chocolate To Your Diabetic Diet
Now, you know you can happily treat yourself to chocolate. Here are some more tips on how you can safely add chocolate to your diet without adversely impacting your blood sugar management:
Do Not Deprive Yourself
When people are diagnosed with diabetes or even pre-diabetes the first thing they do is to steer clear from any kind of sweets. But total deprivation isn't the solution. In fact, it's the biggest mistake you can make.
By depriving yourself entirely, you only make things harder. You'll only end up craving sweets more than ever and could end up binging. More cravings can lead to over-eating and over-indulging which is exactly what you want to avoid. Instead of depriving yourself completely, let yourself indulge moderately every now and then.
Eat Chocolate With Other Food
If you're going to eat chocolate you should pair it with other nutrient-dense foods. This helps you avoid over-indulging. You'll end up getting full of other foods simultaneously.
We highly suggest pairing some dark chocolate with pieces of fresh fruit, raw nuts, or cheese. This is our favorite combination! Plus, the fat and protein content from the nuts and cheese can actually help to lessen the effects on blood sugar from the chocolate and fruit. Or, maybe even consider using diabetic chocolate for baking!
Strategically Time When You're Going To Eat Chocolate
Plan when you're going to have your chocolate. It's best to eat it after a meal. This is because if you were to eat it on an empty stomach, your blood sugar levels would shoot up faster and much higher.
In our opinion, the best time to have chocolate is right after breakfast or lunch. Chocolate has a moderate level of caffeine. This may help give you the boost of energy you need to keep going for the day. Having chocolate before bedtime is not advised.
When eating chocolate you want to make sure that you're savoring every inch of it. Avoid eating chocolate mindlessly or you might end up eating more than you should. Really give yourself a moment to appreciate chocolate and all its goodness.
Choose High-Quality Chocolate
Although you aren't fully depriving yourself of chocolate, you do only get to eat it once in a while. So you definitely wouldn't want to end up with a chocolate bar that doesn't fully satisfy your cravings. You can't take back those calories!
To avoid complete disappointment you must choose the right diabetic-friendly chocolate. It might be a bit more expensive than the usual chocolate bar, but believe us when we say you get what you pay for.
The Best Diabetic-Friendly Chocolates
If it's high-quality diabetic-friendly chocolates you're looking for, Mid-Day Squares has got exactly what you need.
Our diabetic chocolate is the best tasting you'll get your hands on. But that's not all - it is also made from all organic ingredients that are safe for people with diabetes. Mid-Day Squares feature organic, superfood ingredients such as raw chocolate and yacon syrup for some sweetness, along with pink salt, pumpkin seeds, maca powder, sacha inchi protein, cocoa powder, and cocoa butter.
We offer three different flavors: Fudge YAH, Almond Crunch, and Peanut Butta. If you're looking for a classic chocolate bar, our Fudge YAH is the perfect choice. If you're a fan of nuts, then you'll definitely love biting into our Almond Crunch bar. And if you're looking for a diabetic-friendly version of a peanut butter Reese's, our Peanut Butta square is the closest one you'll find.
You can eat our bars alone as a snack after breakfast or lunch. Or you can use them as a substitute for unsweetened baking chocolate and incorporate them into all kinds of diabetic-friendly desserts. From chocolate chip cookies to cakes to brownies, you don't have to say goodbye to dessert completely with Mid-Day Squares. Thousands of our customers love us, and so will you. Grab your first 12-pack today and satisfy your chocolate cravings safely!