Recently there has been a lot of speculation regarding the health benefits of chocolate and the scientific community have investigated whether the high content of flavonoid compounds found in dark chocolate is responsible for lowering the incidence of diabetes.

So what about chocolate as treatment? For some of us it would be a wonderful idea to be able to eat dark chocolate without guilt. It does however appear to be premature at the very least to be recommending chocolate as treatment for people with diabetes.
This debate arose after studies on the Kuna Indians living on the San Blas archipelago east of the Panama Canal. They have a diet loaded with chocolate and the studies indicated that they have an extraordinarily low incidence of diabetes, heart disease, stroke and cancer.

Interest in the Kuna people was in part triggered by the observation that they do not develop high blood pressure. Further research indicated that they also had a low incidence of high cholesterol and diabetes. In effect this means a low occurrence of heart diseases.

The new wave of optimism regarding flavonoid compounds has, however, not been lost on chocolate manufacturers who seem to be aiming for the health food market. Advertising may soon be bombarding us that new flavonoid rich chocolate containing heart healthy plant products may improve control of blood sugar, cholesterol and blood pressure. The question as to whether dark chocolate will emerge as a health food is an interesting one but at the moment there is simply not enough evidence to support this.

Without further rigorous clinical trials the observation linking the chocolate consumption of the Kuna Indians to their low cardiovascular risk and diabetes incidence will remain conjecture. Statistical analysis of diabetes prevalence from all around the world is entirely consistent with the view that people living a traditional and rural way of life are largely protected from developing diabetes. Also flavonoid compounds are not only contained in chocolate, their concentration is also appreciable in many other plants including citrus fruits, grapes and tea.

There is no reason at the present time to alter the view that an ideal diet for people with diabetes should be low in saturated fat, salt and sugar but relatively high in fruit and vegetables.
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