The Benefits of Cocoa for Type 2 Diabetes

An article published in the Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry suggests that specific compounds in cocoa may help with Type 2 diabetes. Researchers from Brigham Young University and Virginia Tech fed animals a high-fat diet, combined with cocoa and found the animals had decreased obesity and a greater ability to handle high blood sugar levels.

The scientists isolated the specific compounds responsible and discovered that certain cocoa components, called epicatchin monomers, assisted in the beta cells’ ability to secrete insulin. Epicatchin monomers protect the cells and help them better handle oxidative stress. Beta cells are found in the pancreas, and in people with diabetes, they are either destroyed or not functioning properly.

The researchers have not yet pinpointed a therapeutic level of cocoa intake and caution consumers not to load up on candy bars because they contain a lot of added sugars and fats that are unlikely to help manage diabetes. Study author Jeffery Tessem, assistant professor of nutrition, dietetics and food science at BYU, says, “It’s the compound in cocoa you’re after.” Unsweetened cocoa is a great addition to balanced smoothies or used as a rub for baked or grilled meats.

Rabiya Bower, RD, LDN, is an in-store nutritionist at Giant Food Stores. For more info, call 215-836-4300 or email Rabiya.Bower@GiantMartins.com. November 2017

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