If you have Type 2 diabetes, you have too much sugar in your blood. Your doctor has most likely advised you to limit your sugar and calorie intake. How do you do that if you love chocolate and have a sweet tooth?
The good news is that those with Type 2 diabetes can still eat chocolate in moderation. The American Diabetes Association suggests eating chocolate or other sweet treats in combination with a healthy meal plan or exercise. The key to eating chocolate when you have diabetes is to choose quality over quantity or eat sugar-free chocolate as an alternative.
Is there any diabetic friendly chocolate available? And what is the best sugar free chocolate for diabetics? Keep reading to learn more about your options for diabetic chocolates.
What Chocolates Can a Diabetic Eat?
What kind of chocolate can you eat if you have Type 2 diabetes? Some choices include the following:
- Dark chocolate: A good-quality dark chocolate contains less sugar than milk or white chocolate.
- Fruit filling: Choose a fruit filling rather than nuts—fruit is lower in both calories and fat than nuts.
- Unsweetened varieties: Unsweetened cocoa powder is lower in fat and calories, but unsweetened chocolate is rich and more satisfying.
- Low-fat alternatives: Many chocolate treats offer lower-fat alternatives, including lower-fat chocolate yogurt or mousse.
Dark chocolates for diabetics are a good choice because of the potential health benefits and a lesser amount of sugar than other types of chocolate. Chocolate is made from the cacao bean, which contains antioxidants and flavanols that can protect heart health, improve cholesterol levels, lower blood pressure and even improve insulin resistance. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), people with Type 2 diabetes are at in increased risk for heart disease, so eating chocolate can actually be a good thing for diabetics.
When deciding what kind of dark chocolate to eat, choose a high-quality dark chocolate with at least 70 percent cacao or higher—the percentage means that 70 percent of the chocolate bar is made from cacao beans and the other 30 percent is sugar and other fillers. The higher the percentage listed on the packaging, the lower the sugar content and the more potential health benefits the chocolate bar contains.
How will chocolate affect your blood sugar? Chocolate has a low glycemic index, which means it does not lead to a spike in blood sugar, and it’s high in fat and fiber, both of which slow digestion.
Counting carbs can make it easier to manage your blood sugar. During digestion, carbohydrates break down into glucose, which is where your cells get their energy. Two categories of carbs are simple carbs and complex carbs. Simple carbs break down quickly, while complex carbs take more time. Sucrose and table sugar are simple carbs and are added to processed foods like commercial chocolates. Other types of simple carbs like fructose (fruit sugar) and lactose (milk sugar) occur naturally in foods.
All chocolate has carbs, even the unsweetened kind. For the best results in managing your diabetes, try to limit the amount of carbs for one chocolate snack to 15 to 30 grams. For comparison, a serving of seven Hershey’s Kiss milk chocolate candies has 19 grams of carbs, whereas a serving of one tablespoon of Hershey’s dark chocolate chips has 9 grams. Look for high-percentage cacao dark chocolate that’s low in sugar to help maintain a balance.
What are some chocolate drinks for diabetics? Hot chocolate made from 70 percent cacao or higher dark chocolate squares will result in a delectable chocolate drink anyone can enjoy. Just melt the chocolate and stir in hot unsweetened almond milk for extra richness without the added sugar. Another option to make a diabetic friendly chocolate drink is to use unsweetened cocoa powder.
Is Sugar-Free Chocolate OK for Diabetics?
Can diabetics eat sugar free chocolate? Yes! Sugar-free chocolate is often called diabetic chocolate, and while you won’t find “diabetic chocolate” on the label, you can find sugar-free chocolate that is safe for you to eat in moderation and that will hit the spot.
Sugar-free chocolate is made by replacing the sugar with a polyol like maltitol or sorbitol. These are known as sugar alcohols. Sugar-free chocolate can be a good alternative to milk or white chocolate or a chocolate drink that’s full of sugar. The milk in milk chocolate is another source of sugar. When choosing sugar-free chocolates, you should be aware of the following:
- Sugar substitutes made with sugar alcohols may cause an upset stomach because they can act as a laxative.
- Some artificial sweeteners may have adverse health effects.
- Some sugar-free chocolate is often as high in calories and fat as regular chocolate.
Dark chocolate with stevia is a good choice—it doesn’t cause the blood sugar level to rise. But just because the chocolate is labeled as sugar-free or gluten-free doesn’t mean it is healthy for people with diabetes. Always eat chocolate in moderation—anything more than enough can raise your blood sugar levels—and learn to read chocolate labels so you know exactly what you are eating.
How to Read a Chocolate Label
Knowing how to read the label on a chocolate bar will help you make healthier food choices. The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has strict standards and specific regulations for milk and white chocolate. Interestingly enough, the FDA doesn’t have a specific standard for labeling dark chocolate. The lack of a standardized policy creates problems for both chocolate makers and chocolate consumers—chocolate makers don’t always know what to put on their labels, and consumers don’t know what to look for when reading the label. The FDA does state that cacao and cacao nibs should be listed for dark chocolate, so look for those ingredients on your dark chocolate bar label.
For a chocolate bar to be labeled as milk chocolate, it must contain at least 10 percent chocolate liquor, at least 12 percent milk solids and at least 3.39 percent milkfat.
White chocolate is made with cocoa butter instead of cacao solids. For a white chocolate bar to be labeled as such, it has to contain a minimum of 20 percent cocoa butter, at least 14 percent total milk solids and at least 3.5 percent milkfat. According to the FDA, white chocolate cannot contain more than 55 percent nutritive sweetener because it adds calories but contains few, if any, vitamins and minerals. Nutritive sweeteners include agave, high-fructose corn syrup, fructose, sucrose, honey and table sugar.
At Cococlectic, our craft chocolate makers use only three ingredients: cacao beans, sugar and cocoa butter. But commercial chocolate bar ingredients often include fillers like soy lecithin, vegetable oil and vanilla (or a vanilla substitute). When ingredients like vegetable oil, artificial sweeteners or milk substitutes are used, the product will be labeled as “chocolatey” or “made with chocolate”—it is not considered actual chocolate.
Each month at Cococlectic, we feature a different American small-batch bean-to-bar chocolate maker who is passionate about producing their chocolate from scratch using only three main ingredients: cacao beans, sugar and cocoa butter.
The chocolates sold at Cococlectic are vegan, non-GMO, fair trade and ethically sourced. They do not contain any soy, gluten, dairy or nut, but they may be produced in a facility that handles these ingredients.
We sell only dark chocolate bars in our chocolate shop. Monthly subscription boxes, one-time gift boxes or corporate gift boxes containing your choice of dark bars only or mixed bars with inclusions of fruits and nuts are available with the purchase of the Office Box. Each chocolate box comes with 4 full-size dark chocolate bars that are made in the US.
Sign up for our chocolate-of-the-month subscription club and join us for a free virtual chocolate tasting with our featured chocolate maker of the month.