"As most fine things, chocolate has its season there´s a simple memory aid that you can use to determine whether it is a correct time to order chocolate dishes. Any month whose name contains the letter A, E, I, O, U, is the proper time for chocolate."

Sandra Boynton,
from her book Chocolate the Consuming Passion

CHOCOLATE, HEALTHFOOD of the GODS

a book by Phillip Minton, M.D.

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It is hard to believe that chocolate could fight diabetes.  This is probably the opposite that most of us would inherently think is true.  But mounting scientific evidence reveals the fact that the cocoa bean contains many factors that fight diabetes.  We will now briefly explore the ways that chocolate (here discussed in its’ non-sugar or low-sugar forms) may help those with diabetes. 

Diabetes here refers to the most common form, “sugar diabetes”, or diabetes mellitus.  This form of diabetes is becoming ever more prevalent in the industrialized societies. <…>

Diabetes is caused when one or more factors unite to yield an elevated blood sugar level.  The most common intrinsic factors are excess body fat (leading to insulin resistance) and failure of the pancreas to produce insulin. <…>

Most chocolate today is manufactured with copious amounts of processed, refined sugar added.  This portion of a common chocolate confection is deleterious to control of diabetes.  However, the chocolate portion of these confections, the part that derives directly from the cocoa bean, have many natural substances that fight diabetes.  The flavonols found abundantly in cocoa beans are thought to be the single most potent element against diabetes in chocolate. (ref 10)   Cocoa, grapes, tea and grapefruit are all flavonol rich.  Research is showing that all of these foods are related to lower risk of cardiovascular disease and more recently…diabetes.  A published study by David Grassi and associates (ref 11) revealed that when test subjects ate dark chocolate, their glucose metabolism improved and their blood pressure decreased.  The authors theorize that the flavonols in the dark chocolate yields these benefical effects.  They cite numerous previous studies indicating that food flavonols can have similar effects, and note that chocolate is known to be especially rich in flavonols.  The amount of flavonols found in a given chocolate product depends upon the quality of the cocoa bean and the processing of it into chocolate.  Different coca beans contain varying amounts of flavonols, and the processing of the cocoa bean can influence the amount of flavonols in the final chocolate confection.  Grassi and colleagues note that several mechanisms of action may be responsible for the effects of improving blood sugar and lowering blood pressure.  One of these mechanisms involves nitric oxide, the same natural body chemical that is influenced by the erection drug Viagra.  Dark chocolate seems to increase the blood concentration of flavonols, which in turn influences nitric oxide production by the body.  The nitric oxide then enables  the immediate mediator of the insulin and blood pressure effect noted in the study.  Dr. Fraga (ref 10) notes that previous studies have shown that other flavonol rich foods such as red wine and tea are associated with similar beneficial effects on insulin, blood sugar and blood pressure.  Mounting evidence strongly suggests that dark chocolate, via flavonols, minerals, and other healthful substances found naturally in the cocoa bean, may be the most potent effects of any foods in fighting diabetes.




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