How can you get your daily chocolate fix -- and eat less sugar or calories,
too? That's a million-dollar question that several companies are banking on
people asking. Over the past few years, the sugar-free and portion-controlled
chocolate market has exploded. There are all sorts of sugar-free versions of
favorite chocolate bars. And you can now buy individually wrapped chocolate
bars or sticks in 60- to 100-calorie portions, along with the ever-popular
To help you decide among all the options out there, we taste-tested a number
of sugar-free chocolate products (and some portion-controlled ones, too). But
first, let's talk about how having a little chocolate every day could actually
be good for you.
If you have diabetes, you already know the drill. What you eat, when you eat, and how much you eat can send your blood sugar skyrocketing -- or make it plummet. For better or worse, "diet and diabetes" go together like salt and pepper.
So if you need a little motivation to eat better - and who doesn't? - consider this: with diabetes, you're at high risk of the nerve pain and damage called diabetic neuropathy. What can start as a little tingling or numbness in your feet can turn into major problems...
Yes, it's true -- chocolate does appear to have some health benefits. Though
more research needs to be done, studies have indicated that cocoa and darker
types of chocolate may help reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease, decrease
pressure, and relax blood vessels.
Many of the health benefits of chocolate seem to stem from the antioxidant
flavanols (a type of flavonoid), which are also found in other plant foods
including tea, grapes, grapefruit, and wine. The cocoa bean happens to be
extraordinarily rich in them.
The flavanol content of chocolate depends on the flavanol content of the
cacao plant used, and the way the cocoa was turned into chocolate. But here are
three general rules of thumb:
Cocoa powder and baking chocolate contain more flavonoids than dark
Dark chocolate has more flavonoids than milk chocolate.
White chocolate has none.
Of course, there's a catch to all this -- you don't want to cancel out all
these potential health benefits of dark chocolate and cocoa by eating too many
calories or too much saturated fat. So portion control is important.
How Do They Make Sugar-Free Chocolate That Tastes Great?
The first thing I learned while surveying the sugar-free chocolate market
was that certain drug stores and supermarkets each stock certain brands of
sugar-free chocolate. So, if you're looking for a certain brand, keep going to
I also soon discovered that the sugar replacement du jour for
sugar-free chocolates is maltitol (a sugar alcohol). Almost all of the
companies who make sugar-free chocolates are using it.
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Your level is currently
If the level is below 70 or you are experiencing symptoms such as shaking, sweating or difficulty thinking, you will need to raise the number immediately. A quick solution is to eat a few pieces of hard candy or 1 tablespoon of sugar or honey. Recheck your numbers again in 15 minutes to see if the number has gone up. If not, repeat the steps above or call your doctor.
People who experience hypoglycemia several times in a week should call their health care provider. It's important to monitor your levels each day so you can make sure your numbers are within the range. If you are pregnant always consult with your health care provider.
Congratulations on taking steps to manage your health.
However, it's important to continue to track your numbers so that you can make lifestyle changes if needed. If you are pregnant always consult with your physician.
Your level is high if this reading was taken before eating. Aim for 70-130 before meals and less than 180 two hours after meals.
Even if your number is high, it's not too late for you to take control of your health and lower your blood sugar.
One of the first steps is to monitor your levels each day. If you are pregnant always consult with your physician.
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