A Sweet Way to Lower Diabetes Risk

Diabetes risk may decrease as chocolate intake increases


Chocolate lovers may have one more reason to indulge their sweet tooth — chocolate may lower diabetes risk.

A new report gives more support to past claims that chocolate may pack a healthy punch. The authors of the report found that chocolate consumption may lower the risk of diabetes.

Chisa Matsumoto, MD, of Tokyo Medical University and Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, led this study.

Several past studies have touted the health benefits of eating chocolate — especially the dark variety. The American Heart Association (AHA) has stated that daily chocolate intake may lower blood pressure and improve blood sugar.

Dr. Matsumoto and colleagues reviewed data on 18,235 men. Their average age at the start of the study was about 66. After an average follow-up of about nine years, 1,123 of these men developed diabetes. The men all reported their chocolate intake.

Compared to those who ate no chocolate, men who ate one to three servings per month had a 7 percent reduced risk for diabetes. Those who had one serving per week had a 14 percent reduced risk. And two or more servings per week was tied to a 17 percent risk reduction.

Dr. Matsumoto and team noted a significant drop in diabetes risk (41 percent) for those with a body mass index (BMI) under 25 who ate two or more servings of chocolate per week — compared to those who ate no chocolate. BMI is a measure of body fat based on height and weight. A BMI under 25 is often considered healthy. A BMI over 25 is considered overweight.

The results of this study correspond with other recent studies that point to chocolate as a factor in lowering diabetes risk, Dr. Matsumoto and team noted.

Why does chocolate appear to lower diabetes risk? Dr. Matsumoto and colleagues said the answer remains unclear. Other studies, however, have shown that cocoa and chocolate may improve insulin resistance.

People with type 2 diabetes have insulin resistance. Their bodies produce insulin but do not use it effectively. Insulin is a hormone that helps the body’s cells use blood sugar (glucose).

This study will appear in the February 2015 issue of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

The authors disclosed no funding sources. Several researchers had ties to GlaxoSmithKline and the California Walnut Commission.