HOLISTIC HEALTH NOTEBOOK: News about chocolate is too good to be true
Every once in awhile, some research tidbit or marketing campaign comes
across my desk that seems too good to be true. Such was the case a year or
so ago when someone approached me about healthy chocolate. "Yeah, right," I
And then I looked up chocolate and cacao on some of my best research sites
and was blown away by the strength and number of research projects touting
the benefits of dark chocolate. Those Inca Indians really knew their stuff.
I recently prepared a talk on raw chocolate and diabetes, words that would
ordinarily not be found in the same sentence unless followed by "stay away
from it." To my amazement, raw chocolate is a food that diabetics should
What does the science say?
Raw cacao is the highest antioxidant food on the planet. Diabetics have an
issue with oxidative damage and need to focus on eating antioxidant rich
foods to help prevent neuropathy and other associated conditions. Apparently
the star antioxidant in chocolate (although there are many) are the
epicatechins, plant based substances that give huge benefits to the body.
Raw cacao (through epicatechins) suppress lipid peroxidation and decrease
plasma concentrations of proinflammatory leukotrienes. Diabetics have issues
with inflammation and need to focus on reducing inflammation through dietary
changes – including eating raw chocolate.
Raw chocolate favorably affects cardiovascular disease risk factors through
its antioxidant activity, including improving HDL-cholesterol
A 2008 rat study (why did they have to use rats? I know plenty of people who
would have enjoyed participating in this study) studied the effects of cocoa
on obese diabetics (ob-db). The study revealed that cocoa supplementation
in the ob-db rats significantly reduced plasma glucose at 60 and 90 minutes
compared to unsupplemented rats. In addition, oxidative stress biomarker
(8-isoprostane) was significantly reduced as well.
This is just a brief look at studies showing the benefits of raw chocolate;
there are literally hundreds of studies. But you have to remember that while
all cacao may have been created equal, it doesn’t remain equal if it
undergoes heat processing and the addition of sugar, fats, wax, and other
stuff. The secret is raw, unprocessed, low-glycemic chocolate.
I tell people that this is a chocolate that you not only want to eat but you
should eat – three times a day.
Carol is a certified lifestyle educator. She owns the Island Nutrition
Center on Sanibel. She can be reached at 472-4499 or at