Cocoa may help diabetics regulate insulin, says study

By Oliver Nieburg

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Insulin Nutrition Diabetes mellitus

Universal symbol for diabetes
Universal symbol for diabetes
Diets rich in cocoa may help people with diabetes to regulate insulin levels, according to new research.

A study by Cordero-Herrera et al. ​in the Molecular Nutrition & Food Research​ journal analysed how epicatechin, a main flavanol in cocoa abundant in dark chocolate, can impact insulin levels.

Diabetics have high blood sugar because the pancreas does not produce enough insulin, or because cells fail to respond to the insulin that is produced.

‘Cocoa useful to manage diabetes’

The researchers concluded that “a diet rich in epicatechnin and/or cocoa may be a potential chemopreventive tool useful for the management of diabetes”.

“Our data suggest that epicatechin and cocoa phenolic extract strengthen the insulin signalling by activating key proteins of that pathway and regulating glucose production through activated protein kinase and modulation in HepG2 cells.”

The study said that current medications to maintain long-term glycemic control in most diabetics were inadequate and cocoa may be the answer.

However, a dietician and charity Diabetes UK have warned that the concentration of flavanols may be too low in chocolate and the extra sugar, fat and calories from upping dark chocolate consumption would outweigh any potential benefits. See HERE.

Method and concentrations

The researchers of the study analyzed the impact of cocoa polyphenol extracts containing epicatechin on hepatic HepG2 cells, liver tissues.

The concentration of epicatechin in the cocoa polyphenol extract ranged from 13.2 nM to 132 nM.

The researchers found that insulin pathways and receptors were improved when subjected to the extracts.

Previous research funded by Mars, found that cocoa flavanols could boost brain functioning and said that the effect was mainly mediated by an improvement in insulin sensitivity. See HERE.

Mol. Nutr. Food Res. 2013, 00, 1–12
DOI 10.1002/mnfr.201200500
‘Cocoa flavonoids improve insulin signalling and modulate glucose production via AKT and AMPK in HepG2 cells’
Authors: Isabel Cordero-Herrera, Marıa Angeles Martin, Laura Bravo, Luis Goya and Sonia Ramos

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1 comment

Healthy Chocolate

Posted by Deb Marshall,

I use a chocolate meal replacement shake and chocolates to control my type-2 diabetes and I have very good control with no other medication. My Dr. is amazed. Also able to leave behind meds for high LDL, high triglycerides, arthritis and irritable bowel syndrome. Very happy to be med free!

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