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The Dieter’s (and Diabetic Person's) Guide to Buying Chocolate

The 'Recipe Doctor' taste-tests sugar-free chocolate.

Best-Tasting Sugar-Free Chocolates

There were definitely some brands that most of my tasters really liked and would buy again (myself included). Here are four winners:

  • Galler Belgian Royal (available at Whole Foods Markets). The taste and texture are great! This brand fooled me into thinking it was regular chocolate. I would definitely buy it again and again. It has that smooth, creamy Swiss chocolate texture. Cost: About $5.99 for a 100-gram bar
  • Dove Sugar Free Rich Dark Chocolates with Chocolate Creme (it also comes in Raspberry Creme option). This has a nice, smooth texture and rich dark chocolate taste. Cost: $3.29 for a 96-gram bag
  • Yamate Chocolatier Sugar Free Milk Chocolate (available at Whole Foods Markets). Creamy texture; rich flavor. Cost: $3.39 for an 85-gram bar
  • Weight Watchers Pecan Crowns (this does contain some sugar). The caramel texture is good -- thick, chewy, and satisfying. It tastes like regular, delicious turtle candy. Cost: $2.99 for an 85-gram bag

Does Sugar-Free Chocolate Have Fewer Calories?

The good news is that there are some calorie savings with sugar-free chocolate. The bad news is that it isn't an impressive amount. A 40-gram serving of Dove sugar-free chocolate has 190 calories, and the same amount of regular milk chocolate totals around 210 calories. If this represents a daily savings of 20 calories, the weekly savings could be 140 calories, and the monthly savings, 560.

Given these calorie totals, it's important to keep portion size in mind even if you opt for sugar-free chocolate. Three pieces of the new Hershey's Special Dark Sugar Free Chocolates (24 grams weight) add up to 114 calories, 9 grams fat, 5.4 grams saturated fat, 13.8 grams carbohydrate, and 1.8 grams fiber.

While even a little calorie savings could add up for someone who enjoys some chocolate every day, the bottom line is that these new sugar-free chocolates probably are of most benefit to people with diabetes. These products could help them enjoy a little bite of chocolate without worry of it raising their blood sugar levels.

What about Regular Chocolate?

If you don't want to go sugar-free, the trick is enjoying your chocolate (preferably the flavanol-contributing dark chocolate) in small portions. And you can easily find portion-controlled chocolate options, whether you choose mini-bars, kisses, or "nuggets."

Can you really be satisfied with a half-ounce portion? Maybe so, if you really stop and take the time to savor it. Don't just pop it in your mouth as you run out the door. See how long you can take to enjoy that half-ounce of chocolate.

One of the more nutritious and satisfying dark chocolate options out there is Hershey's Special Dark Nuggets with Almonds. This way, you get some nutritious almonds along with your dose of dark chocolate. If you can be satisfied with 2 of these "nuggets," (19 grams) this would add up to 110 calories, 7 grams of fat, 3 grams of saturated fat (0 trans fat), 10 grams of carbohydrate and 1.5 grams of fiber and 1.5 grams of protein.

Elaine Magee, MPH, RD, is the "Recipe Doctor" for the WebMD Weight Loss Clinic and the author of numerous books on nutrition and health. Her opinions and conclusions are her own.

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If the level is below 70 and 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.

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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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