Benefits Of Dark Chocolate For Blood Sugar


Dark chocolate for blood sugar

Chocolate is often linked to weight gain and increased risk of diabetes. However, dark chocolate is now soaring in popularity as a healthy alternative to sugar-loaded confectionary. 

That’s because dark chocolate offers plenty of health benefits, unlike milk and white chocolate. Over the past few decades, dark chocolate has shown potential as a functional food that can prevent and slow down the progression of type 2 diabetes and its cardiovascular complications.

Although this is exciting news for chocolate lovers, it’s important to note that only eating dark chocolate won’t help in mitigating diabetes. Additionally, wolfing down any chocolate bar you find won’t guarantee its health benefits.

So, with that, let’s take a deep dive into the antidiabetic potential of dark chocolate and how we can regulate our intake of it to reap maximum benefit.

Health benefits of dark chocolate for blood sugar

Most of the health benefits of dark chocolate are attributed to cocoa flavanols, the antioxidant constituent of the cacao bean. Dark chocolate lowers blood sugar levels by improving insulin sensitivity through the reduction of insulin resistance. Insulin resistance arises from the inability of the skeletal muscles and various organs to utilize blood glucose due to poor blood flow.1, 2

Studies have shown that dark chocolate increases the amount of nitric oxide (NO), a vasodilator in the bloodstream, thus allowing for unhindered blood flow and subsequent uptake of glucose. Nitric oxide can also alter cell signals to activate insulin and stimulate the use of glucose in body tissues.1,2 

Dark chocolate can also modulate blood glucose levels by stimulating the release of insulin and special proteins. It reduces oxidative stress, a significant factor causing insulin resistance, thanks to its antioxidant properties.3

In addition to its antidiabetic properties, dark chocolate has also shown promising results in preventing cardiovascular diseases. This is especially important as diabetic patients are more at risk of developing complications affecting the heart and blood vessels. Research has shown that dark chocolate is effective in reducing blood pressure in diabetic patients with hypertension without adversely affecting blood glucose and lipid profiles.14

Furthermore, it exhibits anti-inflammatory effects that aid in the prevention of cardiovascular disease and the improvement of gut health.2, 5

Besides these health benefits, dark chocolate can also help reduce obesity. As a significant risk factor, obesity is the first obstacle in diabetes treatment. Some studies have shown that cocoa-rich dark chocolate can reduce body weight and LDL cholesterol levels in obese and overweight people. However, it’s best to couple dark chocolate with the American Diabetes Association-recommended weight loss regime and healthy diet since dark chocolate is a high-calorie treat.4,6

How much is enough?

At present, there’s no standard dose for eating dark chocolate. Figures vary from clinical trials, advice from dietitians, and nutritionist blogs. 

While there’s considerable bias in blogs and varying expert opinions, research papers are credible sources. However, even they have downsides. For starters, varying quantities of dark chocolate, different processing methods, distinct cocoa content, and finally, different duration of consumption.3, 4, 5, 7, 8

Hence, we still need to investigate a certain amount for consumption. But in the meantime, there’s a study we can stick by. This one suggests 2g of 70% dark chocolate for daily consumption. After 6 months, it concluded that blood glucose, lipid profile, and waistline showed immense improvement compared to milk chocolate. Additionally, antioxidant activity was at an all-time high resulting in protective effects against cellular DNA damage.8

Best time to eat dark chocolate for blood sugar

There’s no scientific evidence on the ideal timing of dark chocolate consumption. However, there’s a study of similar nature on milk chocolate. It concluded that milk chocolate intake in the morning with a meal and within the first hour of waking up reduces hunger and blood sugar levels compared to milk chocolate consumption in the evening.7

Another study comparing the effect of milk, white and dark chocolate on ad libitum food intake also gave participants chocolate only in the morning after an overnight fast and observed a reduction in ad libitum food intake. However, the study focused on the effect  85% dark chocolate had on ad libitum food intake rather than the timing.12

Best dark chocolate for blood sugar

Studies have shown that dark chocolate with the highest percentage of cocoa is the best chocolate for diabetes since antioxidant capacity is highest in chocolate bars containing 65-90% cocoa and lowest in ones containing 40-45% cocoa. High percentages of cocoa also correspond to high quantities of cocoa flavanols and polyphenols.9, 10, 11

Sugar-free dark chocolates containing stevia, erythritol, and inulin as artificial sweeteners are also recommended for diabetes due to the absence of sugar and proven results of lowering blood glucose in patients with type 1 and type 2 diabetes.13

There’s also evidence of increased antioxidant capacity and flavanol content in dark chocolate fortified with enriched cocoa powder, fruits, nuts, spices, herbs, prebiotics, probiotics, algae, proteins, and lipids. A few examples of these classes are – Oranges, Prunes, Raspberries, Cinnamon, Inulin, Xanthan gum, Spirulina, etc.2, 9

Commercial chocolate bars are usually put through rigorous processing before making it to the shelf. As a result, most of these beneficial compounds are lost during the manufacturing process. Therefore, diabetic patients must stick to sugar-free, fortified, high-cocoa-content chocolate bars for maximum health benefits.9

Things to remember

Although dark chocolate has a lot to offer to healthy and diabetic patients alike, it’s important to remember not to go overboard. Moderation is the key to healthy diets, and dark chocolate is no exception.

According to the American Diabetes Association, there’s no fixed ratio of carbohydrates, proteins, and fats for people with or at risk of diabetes. It is entirely dependent on the individual. Therefore, it’s vital to allocate quantities of these macronutrients based on your calorie goals for controlling blood sugar.

A similar allotment of calories should be applied to dark chocolate as well. Also, never forget that a holistic approach to a healthy lifestyle includes exercise along with dieting.

Dark chocolate must be carefully chosen, given that most commercial bars have sugar added as sweeteners. Always check the ingredient list and opt for cocoa-rich chocolate bars, sugar-free bars, or bars fortified with fruits and nuts rich in antioxidants.

Although plenty of studies have established dark chocolate’s antidiabetic potential, there’s still plenty to investigate. So far, most studies have only assessed the short-term benefits of dark chocolate. Therefore, more research is needed to study the prolonged effect of dark chocolate consumption in addition to the standard dose and intake timing of dark chocolate.


Dark chocolate is an indulgent treat with surprising benefits that help prevent and alleviate diabetes and heart disease. It lowers blood sugar, blood pressure, and LDL cholesterol. It’s rich in antioxidants that protect the body’s cells against oxidative stress and DNA damage. While it’s exciting to sweeten our diets, we should remember to be picky as not all dark chocolate bars are healthy. Even though cocoa-rich dark chocolate is bitter, it makes a significant difference when compared to standard dark chocolate bars. And like every healthy food out there, eating dark chocolate in moderation is the key to making dieting an enjoyable experience.


  1. Shah SR, Alweis R, Najim NI, Dharani AM, Jangda MA, Shahid M, et al. Use of dark chocolate for diabetic patients: a review of the literature and current evidence. Journal of Community Hospital Internal Medicine Perspectives [Internet]. 2017 Oct 2 [cited 2022 Dec 24];7(4):218–21. Available from:
  2. Samanta S, Sarkar T, Chakraborty R, Rebezov M, Shariati MA, Thiruvengadam M, et al. Dark chocolate: An overview of its biological activity, processing, and fortification approaches. Current Research in Food Science [Internet]. 2022 [cited 2022 Dec 24];5:1916–43. Available from:
  3. Kawakami Y, Watanabe Y, Mazuka M, Yagi N, Sawazaki A, Koganei M, et al. Effect of cacao polyphenol-rich chocolate on postprandial glycemia, insulin, and incretin secretion in healthy participants. Nutrition [Internet]. 2021 May [cited 2022 Dec 24];85:111128. Available from:
  4. Mellor DD, Sathyapalan T, Kilpatrick ES, Beckett S, Atkin SL. High-cocoa polyphenol-rich chocolate improves HDL cholesterol in Type 2 diabetes patients: High-cocoa polyphenol-rich chocolate improves HDL cholesterol. Diabetic Medicine [Internet]. 2010 Nov [cited 2022 Dec 24];27(11):1318–21. Available from:
  5. Jafarirad S, Ayoobi N, Karandish M, Jalali MT, Haghighizadeh M, Jahanshahi A. Dark chocolate effect on serum adiponectin, biochemical and inflammatory parameters in diabetic patients: A randomized clinical trial. Int J Prev Med [Internet]. 2018 [cited 2022 Dec 24];9(1):86. Available from:
  6. Halib H, Ismail A, Mohd Yusof BN, Osakabe N, Mat Daud ZA. Effects of cocoa polyphenols and dark chocolate on obese adults: a scoping review. Nutrients [Internet]. 2020 Nov 30 [cited 2022 Dec 24];12(12):3695. Available from:
  7. Hernández‐González T, González‐Barrio R, Escobar C, Madrid JA, Periago MJ, Collado MC, et al. Timing of chocolate intake affects hunger, substrate oxidation, and microbiota: A randomized controlled trial. The FASEB Journal [Internet]. 2021 Jul [cited 2022 Dec 24];35(7). Available from:
  8. Leyva-Soto A, Chavez-Santoscoy RA, Lara-Jacobo LR, Chavez-Santoscoy AV, Gonzalez-Cobian LN. Daily consumption of chocolate rich in flavonoids decreases cellular genotoxicity and improves biochemical parameters of lipid and glucose metabolism. Molecules [Internet]. 2018 Sep 1 [cited 2022 Dec 24];23(9):2220. Available from:
  9. González-Barrio R, Nuñez-Gomez V, Cienfuegos-Jovellanos E, García-Alonso FJ, Periago-Castón MJ. Improvement of the flavanol profile and the antioxidant capacity of chocolate using a phenolic rich cocoa powder. Foods [Internet]. 2020 Feb 14 [cited 2022 Dec 24];9(2):189. Available from:
  10. Mikołajczak N, Tańska M. Relationships between cocoa mass percentage, surface color, free phenolic compounds content and antioxidant capacity of commercially available dark chocolate bars. J Food Sci Technol [Internet]. 2021 Nov [cited 2022 Dec 24];58(11):4245–51. Available from:
  11. Jaćimović S, Popović-Djordjević J, Sarić B, Krstić A, Mickovski-Stefanović V, Pantelić NĐ. Antioxidant activity and multi-elemental analysis of dark chocolate. Foods [Internet]. 2022 May 17 [cited 2022 Dec 24];11(10):1445. Available from:
  12. Marsh CE, Green DJ, Naylor LH, Guelfi KJ. Consumption of dark chocolate attenuates subsequent food intake compared with milk and white chocolate in postmenopausal women. Appetite [Internet]. 2017 Sep [cited 2022 Dec 24];116:544–51. Available from:
  13. Oliveira B, Falkenhain K, Little JP. Sugar-Free Dark Chocolate Consumption Results in Lower Blood Glucose in Adults With Diabetes. Nutrition and Metabolic Insights. 2022 Feb;15:11786388221076962.
  14. Rostami A, Khalili M, Haghighat N, Eghtesadi S, Shidfar F, Heidari I, Ebrahimpour-Koujan S, Eghtesadi M. High-cocoa polyphenol-rich chocolate improves blood pressure in patients with diabetes and hypertension. ARYA atherosclerosis. 2015 Jan;11(1):21.
This content is purely informational and isn’t medical guidance. It shouldn’t replace professional medical counsel. Always consult your physician regarding treatment risks and benefits. See our editorial standards for more details.

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Malaika Solomon

Bachelor of Pharmacy - B Pharm, JSS Academy of Higher Education and Research, India.

I'm an experienced content writer currently pursuing a post graduate diploma in Clinical Research.
I'm passionate about writing articles that bring accurate and digestible information about healthcare and medical research.

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