Type 2 diabetes reveals one of two important characteristics about a person’s body: that their pancreas does not make enough insulin, or that the cells are resistant to the insulin it does make. Both have the same damaging effect: Blood sugar levels are allowed to pass through the body, damaging blood vessels in the process. Insulin is a hormone that lowers blood sugar, so finding ways to improve insulin secretion and response is important.
Additionally, a review of human studies showed that eating dark chocolate or flavanol-rich cocoa can reduce insulin sensitivity, improve blood sugar control, and reduce inflammation in diabetics and non-diabetics.
Furthermore, some studies have shown that a higher intake of flavanols, including cocoa, can reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes.
A key warning
“It has to be 100% unsweetened cocoa or cocoa powder,” said Avigdor Arad, PhD, professor of medicine, endocrinology, diabetes and bone disease at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York City.
As Arad explains, unsweetened cocoa powder contains very little sugar and is made primarily of fiber.
Furthermore, unsweetened cocoa or cocoa powder also has a very low glycemic index (GI).
The GI is a value assigned to foods based on how slowly or quickly they cause increases in blood sugar levels.
Foods that have a high GI rating cause rapid spikes in blood sugar, while those with a low GI, such as unsweetened cocoa or cocoa powder, keep blood sugar levels stable.
Other low-GI foods include apples, Greek yogurt, and peanuts, says the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.
Type 2 diabetes: what to look for
Type 2 diabetes often goes undetected because symptoms are often subtle or non-existent in the early stages.
If you experience symptoms, the most common include:
- Urinating more than normal, especially at night.
- Be thirsty all the time
- Feeling very tired
- Losing weight without trying
- Itching around your penis or vagina, or having canker sores repeatedly
- Cuts or wounds that take longer to heal
- Blurry vision