If you have diabetes, you probably know that your heart disease risk is much higher than it is for someone who doesn’t have diabetes. It is common for people with diabetes take medicine to lower their risks for heart disease or other heart problems. But did you know that chocolate might also keep your heart healthy?
Chocolate’s healthy secret
To be honest, we’re not just talking about chocolate. We’re talking about antioxidants called “flavonoids,” which are found in the cocoa plant. Many other foods contain flavonoids, including beans, grains, green tea, most fruits and vegetables, and some herbs and spices. What makes flavonoids so important? New research has found that there may be a link between heart disease, diabetes, and eating foods with lots of flavonoids.
In the past, research showed that eating flavonoid-rich foods did not change your diabetes risk. But new studies have showed different results! Flavonoids are now thought to help your body’s insulin work better. One study even showed that flavonoids might help the insulin-making cells in the pancreas work harder. This could help you maintain your blood glucose levels more easily, and prevent complications from type 2 diabetes. Experts also think that flavonoids help reduce inflammation in the body, which is a problem in people who have diabetes, arthritis, eczema, allergies, heart disease, and other chronic illnesses.
Chocolate and your heart
Even better news has been found in relation to chocolate and heart disease. A large research study found that people who ate more flavonoids saw good changes in their cholesterol levels. Their HDL (good) cholesterol levels went up, and their LDL (bad) cholesterol levels went down. After a year of eating more flavonoids, they had lowered their risk of heart disease. After ten years, they had a much lower risk of heart disease than people who didn’t eat a lot of flavonoids. The study found that the people who ate lots of flavonoids had much less narrowing of the blood vessels in the heart. And, their blood pressure was lower, too.
It is important to note that the people who took part in these studies stayed on the medicines they were already taking. This means that taking your medicine is still important, but that eating flavonoid-rich food at the same time may help you keep your heart even healthier.