Insulin Sensitivity Promoted by Dark Chocolate

Good news for chocolate lovers: An Italian study foundthat dark chocolate decreases blood pressure and improvesinsulin sensitivity in healthy people without diabetes. Whitechocolate (which does not contain flavanols), however, wasnot found to have the same effects.

According to Italian researchers, flavanols, which are foundin dark chocolate, “may exert significant vascular protectionbecause of their antioxidant properties and increasednitric oxide bioavailability.” In turn, they say, “nitric oxidebioavailability deeply influences insulin-stimulated glucoseuptake and vascular tone.”

After a seven-day “cocoa-free run-in phase,” 15 healthysubjects were assigned to receive 100 grams of darkchocolate or 90 grams of white chocolate for 15 days andthen crossed over to the other treatment group after aseven-day “cocoa-free washout phase.”

“[Insulin resistance] was significantly lower after dark thanafter white chocolate ingestion,” write the researchers. Inaddition, systolic blood pressure was an average of 107.5mmHg after eating dark chocolate, compared to 113.9 mHgin the white chocolate group, although blood pressure waswithin normal limits in both groups.

—American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, March 2005

A note from Gerri French, MS/RD, CDE:

One hundred grams of chocolate is about 3.5 ounces, whichcontains about 540 calories, 59 grams of carbohydrate and30 grams of fat. To prevent weight gain, have a smallerportion or consider sugar-free dark chocolate, which willhave less calories from carbohydrate although the fatcontent is usually the same.

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