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Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Are you a chocolate lover?

I must admit that I'm one, and it's bitter sweet.

Cocoa, the good ingredient of chocolate has a great quality, it's high in antioxidants (flavonoids), even more so than green tea or red wine. But most chocolate you see on the store shelf contains refined sugar, a real problem for many individuals, and for healthcare as a whole.

And if you think that "no sugar added" chocolate is better, think twice.

Most sugar free, or even those labeled safe for people with diabetes, contain unacceptable sweeteners. The most common one is maltitol.

Maltilol is classified chemically as a "sugar alcohol." In reality it's neither one. But it has nearly as many calories as table sugar, and its glycemic index (a measure of its effect on blood glucose level) is almost the same as table sugar.

Some chocolates are made with more nutritionally acceptable sweeteners, such as erythritol (present in Truvia), which a very low glycemic index, and as far as the body is concerned, have no calories. Admittedly, it's hard to find them.

So you're a chocolate freak and you're worried about the sugar content of chocolate, what should you do (from personal experience, I know that telling you to stay away from chocolate isn't going to work...)?

Choose bitter-sweet chocolates, they have less sugar. If you can find erythritol, fructose or oligofructose sweetened chocolate, choose that. You may want to try home made hot chocolate made of unsweetened, fat free cocoa (available in many super markets), an erythritol sweetener (Truvia is OK), and  low fat milk - it may satisfy some of your chocolate craving.

Happy hunting. If you have good chocolate suggestions, let us know.

Twitter / Dr. Staw