Cocoa in its purest form is a health food

Balance beans

By now, you know my feelings about sugar. But if you think my unwavering disapproval extends to chocolate, you’ll probably be happy to hear that you’re wrong.

In fact, cocoa–at least, in its purest form–is a bonafide health food. It’s packed with antioxidants. And its unique flavonoid profile makes it a delicious foil for high blood pressure, inflammation… and according to one new study, blood sugar problems, too.

As part of this research, scientists tested the effects of cocoa polyphenols on human liver cells. And they found that these unique substances were able to improve insulin pathways and receptors in the laboratory.

These results appeared in Molecular Nutrition and Food Research. And the researchers think that cocoa beans’ abundance of epicatechin–the same compound you’ll find in green tea–is the most likely explanation for them.

But whatever mechanism’s at work here, the message to diabetics is clear. Eat more chocolate.

Of course, that doesn’t mean you should go stock up on Hershey’s Kisses. Needless to say, that’s not the kind of chocolate I’m talking about.

However, modest amounts of high-quality dark chocolate–containing at least 70 percent cacao–gets a green light from me. Even better, try sweetening up 100 percent pure cacao yourself with just a little bit of stevia.

That way, you can really have your chocolate and eat it, too.

“Cocoa flavonoids improve insulin signalling and modulate glucose production via AKT and AMPK in HepG2 cells.” Mol Nutr Food Res. 2013 Mar 4. doi: 10.1002/mnfr.201200500.