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The chocolate paradox: cocoa antioxidants for diabetes

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  • The chocolate paradox: cocoa antioxidants for diabetes

Type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM) is the most common form of diabetes and one of the most common chronic diseases worldwide. Natural dietary compounds such as flavonoids, which are abundant in fruits and vegetables, have recently been receiving a lot of attention due to their potential capacity to act as anti-diabetic agents. Predominant amongst these flavonoids are cocoa flavonoids, which have demonstrated numerous abilities to ameliorate important markers of T2DM. 

In a review of relevant reports conducted over the last decade cocoa flavanols were found to exhibit anti-diabetic effects by regulating carbohydrate absorption in the gut, protecting beta-pancreatic cell function and enhancing insulin secretion, improving insulin sensitivity through regulation of glucose transporters in peripheral tissues such as adipose tissue, liver and skeletal muscle, improving regulation of the main proteins involved in the insulin signalling pathway, exerting a lipid-lowering effect and preventing the complications of excessive oxidative stress and inflammation subsequent to the disease.

But while this study provides compelling evidence to prescribe a 30g daily dose of cocoa or dark chocolate for preventative management of T2DM, unfortunately many commercially available soluble cocoa products or chocolates contain low amounts of the flavonols required and are rich in sugar and calories that aggravate glycaemic control in T2DM patients.


  1. Ramos S, Martin MA, Goya L. Effects of cocoa antioxidants in type 2 diabetes mellitus. Antioxidants (Basel) 2017;6(4):E84.


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Stephanie Radnan

Stephanie is a qualified naturopath, journalist, personal trainer, and multitasker who has been lucky to live her passion throughout her career in the realm of health and fitness. Currently, Stephanie is working as a writer and editor for one of Australia's leading nutraceutical companies. Outside of her work in comms and journalism, she owns her own naturopathy, health and fitness company specialising in mental health, gut health and female hormones. Health food, exercise and bringing people happiness are Stephanie’s biggest drivers in life, with travel, pets and adventure filling up her free-time.