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Diabetes Diet

Drink Chocolate to Manage Diabetes

Chocolate can reduce our insulin resistance, which leads to type 2 diabetes, and improve our memory. What we need from the chocolate are the nutrients called flavanols, as I wrote at Cocoa Can Help Prevent Type 3 Diabetes.

My article reviewed some exciting new research, the full text of which is free online at “Cocoa flavanol consumption.” This was a high-quality study, one that was randomized and  double-blind and included 90 people who for eight weeks consumed either 48 mg, 520 mg, or 993 mg of flavanols in a drink. Those people in the intermediate and high intake groups showed clear improvements in insulin resistance, memory, as well as in  blood pressure and lipid profiles.

But not just any chocolate bar or drink just any cocoa will give us a decent level of flavanols. The problem is that how much good nutrition we get when we eat different chocolates varies tremendously.

Avoid Dutching

Dutch-processed chocolate is much lower in flavanols than natural-processed chocolate. And even among the brands of natural cocoa, great differences in the amount of flavanols exist, and few of the products show how many milligrams of flavanol they contain.


Two brands of cocoa, however, do show the amount of flavanols they have, and they each have a lot. CocoaVia, produced by Mars Botanical, the scientific division of the giant candy company Mars Inc., comes in several forms. CocoaWell, produced by Reserveage Nutrition, also comes in several forms. The difference between these brands is that some of the cocoa-like flavanols in CocoaWell are contributed by other flavanol-containing ingredients while CocoaVia is made from a cocoa extract.

Avoiding Pesticides

So far, I have been using only the CocoaVia products, because the flavanols in cocoa are a proven source. But I will switch to CocoaWell, because it is organic and CocoaVia is not. It takes a lot of pesticides to grow cocoa, and I don’t like to eat poison.

This article is based on an earlier version of my article published by HealthCentral.

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  • Mike at

    Dave – my wife has AFIB. Do you think CocoaVia would be a problem for her as she tries to stay away from caffein.

    She has recently been diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes & because of that I have really been reading through your information.

    • David Mendosa at

      I didn’t think there was any caffeine in the CocoaVia. Is there?

  • Lilah at

    David — I’ve been taking CocoaWell True Energy capsules since I first read your article… I’m wondering: what’s the difference between Flavanols and Plant Flavanols. It seems that the Flavanols in CocoaWell are not all Cocoa Flavanols? (Some or all are from green tea and other plants?) Can you comment/explain?

    Also for the person looking for less expensive options — I noted on Amazon that people are posting that CocoaVia is cheaper to buy directly from Mars (from the website) than from Amazon.

    • David Mendosa at

      You are right, Lilah, that some of CocoaWell’s flavanols come from other sources than from cocoa. I know that all flavanols are beneficial, but I don’t know if they are beneficial to the same degree (perhaps better, perhaps not). I doubt if any studies have made that comparison yet.

      Thank you for suggesting that Mars has a better price for CocoaVia than Amazon. But I don’t see that:
      For CocoaVia Unsweetened Dark Chocolate, 375 mg, 30 Count at Amazon the price is $39.31 and free shipping (Amazon also currently has a $5 coupon on it).
      at http://www.cocoavia.com/checkout/cart/ it is $50.94 including $5.95 for shipping.

      For Vegetarian Capsules, 90 Count Bottle at Amazon the price is $38.70 and free shipping (Amazon also currently has a $5 coupon on it).
      at http://www.cocoavia.com/checkout/cart/ it is $50.94 including $5.95 for shipping.

      If you sign up for auto-delivery, the price is somewhat less at Cocoavia (the only Mars site, I think), but it still can’t compare with Amazon. Am I overlooking something?

  • Rosemarie at

    Jeff, first I don’t think any one food is the answer to any health problems you may have, but can be a beneficial addition to other nourishing whole,unadulterated foods you eat. (I will answer your question about my own health in a separate post later on.)
    I have found two links that puts this consumer lab result into perspective:

    Navitas addresses the cadmium problem in GREAT DETAIL here. I don’t want to select any one paragraph here because the whole page contains many answers about the subject. Read and decide for yourself.

    This BRIEF article addresses the consumer’s report as well as the fact that cadmium is in other foods as well (therefore don’t go overboard on any one food– my comment)

    Quote: “How does cadmium get into chocolate? Dr. W. Jeffrey Hurst, FAIC, DAAIM, principal scientist for The Hershey Company says that cadmium, like other minerals, gets into cocoa plants through the soil. ” As a result, minerals are naturally present in virtually all foods, including fish, meat, grains, fruits, and vegetables, as well as cocoa,” Dr. Hurst says. “

    Further down it says this : “You could safely have 5 tablespoons of pure cocoa powder every day before the trace levels of cadmium become an issue.”

    I personally tend to consume one or two cups of my cacoa drink, prepared with up to 8 oz hot water with a slightly rounded teaspoon of cacao, topped off with a little milk or cream —- that’s barely one tablespoon of cacao powder a day (there are 3 teaspoons in one tablespoon). It’s something I enjoy and have been doing it for amost two years.

  • Jeff at

    OK. Thanks, David. And thanks again for your wonderful newsletter!

  • jeff ostroff at

    David and Rosemarie. I’m interested in knowing first, David, what do you think of Rosemarie’s alternative suggestion? Rosemarie, I’d like to hear from you if you notice any improvement in your blood sugars since you started using Navitas Cacao powder. Also, where do you buy it?

    • David Mendosa at

      Jeff, the problem with the Navitas cocoa is, according to a ConsumerLab.com test, that it exceeds the recommended level of cadmium. It IS reasonably high in flavanols, however.

  • Rosemarie at

    David, just to clarify, Navitas raw cacao (cocoa) powder is full of antioxidants which includes flavenoids, as well. And just because I like it as a hot drink does not preclude adding it to smoothies or other foods. It’s just another option for those who are looking for a cheaper version.
    I’ve been reading your blog for a long time and appreciate the work you do. Thank you!

  • Caleb Murdock at

    I knew that you would be able to give us more information. A cocoa shortage — OH MY GOD! If I have to go without chocolate, I’ll DIE. I wouldn’t be surprised if global warming has something to do with this new pest. By the way, I upped my vitamin D intake, and I’m seeing lower blood-sugar numbers, although I can’t say for sure there is a correlation. My diet hasn’t been very good lately.

  • Caleb Murdock at

    Everything listed on Amazon for these products is in capsule form. Where else can we find them? To be honest, if the products are expensive on Amazon, I probably can’t afford them from some other site. As much as I want to preserve my brain, I don’t want to swallow expensive capsules. Since you can’t taste the chocolate in a capsule, perhaps there are other, less expensive capsules we can take to get the flavanols. David, with your contacts as a journalist, you should be able find out about other sources for flavanols.

    • David Mendosa at

      You are right in terms of CocoaWell products, Caleb. Amazon only offers CocoaWell in capsule form. However, Amazon offers CocoaVia products in either capsule or powder form. The CocoaWell website says that their powder is available exclusively through Whole Foods. However, I understand that Whole Foods doesn’t carry it any more. So, I called the company that makes CocoaWell, Reserveage Organics, and learned that they haven’t been able to get enough cacao from their source (because of the witch’s broom disease that is causing a worldwide cacao shortage). I was very pleased with how quick I was able to get through (immediately) and the informative response I received. Jennifer, who took my call, recommends their capsules through Whole Foods, Vitamin Cottage, Vitamin Shoppe, and some local retailers. She also told me that she will contact me when Reserveage is able to offer CocoaWell powder again.

  • victoria at

    SO, afterword, what is your most favorable recipe?
    Please! Thank you, all your posts, thoughts are very helpful and inspiring!

    • David Mendosa at

      My favorite recipe, Victoria? Good question. Considering how many times that I eat it, it must be salad! Greens, tofu, mushrooms, bell peppers are usually part of it and other stuff like olives, nopalitos, cheese, chia seeds from time to time. The dressing is Bragg’s apple cider vinegar with coconut, macadamia nut or other oil. Writing this makes me hungry for lunch!

  • Ruby at

    David, I am prediabetic, and I can neither drink coffee or hot chocolate because of bowel problems with them. Will this type of chocolate have the same effect?

    • David Mendosa at

      I wish that I could answer your question, Ruby. But I really don’t know.

  • Al at

    David: I put 2 sm scoops of powdered Hershey’s dark chocolate in with my coffee perc.
    I also eat baker’s chocolate, unsweetened, in small 3/8″ squares once a day. Thoughts?

    • David Mendosa at

      This probably tastes great, Al. But I wouldn’t count on it to provide much in the way of flavanols!

  • Anstria Greenwood at

    Hi again David,

    I have a follow-up question. Too much coffee and to a lesser extent cocoa cause me to become jittery . Have you had this effect?

    I’ve done badly on a test for dementia last week for my age and would like to give it a try.


    • David Mendosa at

      I don’t get jittery for cocoa, Anstria. But I don’t drink more than a couple of cups of coffee per day, and that doesn’t make my jittery either. Actually, tests of my chocolates show that they have about as much a cup of green tea and about half the amount in a cup of regular, brewed coffee.

  • Anstria Greenwood at


    I’m in Canada and so far can only find this in capsules, the price ranging from nearly $400 to $50 for 60 capsules. I’m not a fan of swallowing capsules and have trouble with it. I also prefer whole food supplements rather than in processed form. Do you know where I can buy the actual cocoa powder in Canada? Here’s what I’ve found:

    ReserveAge Organics CocoaWell CoQ10 Heart 200 mg 60 Vegetar by Reserveage
    by Reserveage
    CDN$ 386.41

    CocoaWell Cocoa Science 60 Vegitabs by Reserveage Organics
    by Reserveage Organics
    CDN$ 87.43

    Reserveage Organics Cocoawell True Energy, 60 Vegetarian Capsules
    by Reserveage Organics
    CDN$ 50.38

    Reserveage Organics Cocoawell Advanced Coq10 Heart, 200 mg, 60 Vegatarian Capsules
    by Reserveage Organics
    CDN$ 50.25

    • David Mendosa at

      Can’t you get both the capsules and powder of both CocoaVia and CocoaWell from Amazon.com?

  • Sharon at

    I might have missed this info in you articles but this is recommended for type 1 and type 2.

    • David Mendosa at

      I am sure recommending this for both types 1 and 2, Sharon. Anyone whose blood sugar goes high is at great risk that the flavanols in cocoa might well benefit.

  • Jay at

    When I clicked on Cocoa Well, it only showed capsules. How are you going to use it in a shake? Does it come in a powder form like the Cocoa Via? I do like the chocolate shake idea, but don’t like consuming pesticides, as you mentioned. Thanks for the info.

  • Rosemarie at

    I have been using Navitas Cacao powder (raw, organic) for over a year on a daily basis. I heat about 3/4 c water in a mug, for one minute in the microwave, then add 1 rounded teaspoon of cacao powder. If the water is nice and hot the cacao powder will produce a yummy foam on top. To this I add about a tablespoon of cream or milk stir and sip. No added ingredients needed for me. You should experiment with the amount of cacao and cream to suit your taste.

    I have learned love this drink and enjoy it at least once or twice a day – without any sweetener, much like others like their daily coffee. It is full of nutrients and minerals. And at between $12-16 for one pound quite a bit cheaper than the above products you mentioned. I realize this is not everyone’s taste, though.

    • David Mendosa at

      The two products that I wrote about are definitely expensive, Rosemarie. But they have been tested to be high in flavanols.

  • Julie at

    Is cocoa processed with alkali the same as Dutch-processed? Is there naturally processed cocoa in powder form? The ones in the pic are capsules. Love your newsletters. Thanks.

    • David Mendosa at

      Dear Julie,

      Yes, Julie, Dutch-processed is the same as using alkali. I know that for sure. But new studies show that this process doesn’t remove much of the flavanols as previously thought.

  • Lee Hunnicutt, Jr. at


    Hershey’s sugar free chocolate syrup after water has cocoa the main ingredient and is a lot cheaper Cocoa Via. Is it just as good for you has Cocoa Via?



    • David Mendosa at

      I really don’t think so, Lee. None of the studies I have read indicate that anything comes close to the products I reviewed.

  • Beth at

    Hi David,
    First off Thank you so much for all your studies and shared info. I appreciate it all so much and have learned so much from them.

    Regarding the CocoaWell you speak of that you now use.. are you purchasing the capsules and breaking them open? Or is there a powder formula you’re finding? I click the link and I see capsules… could you expound? Thank you 🙂 Beth

    • David Mendosa at

      Thank you, Beth. Actually, both CocoaWell and CocoaVia come in both powdered and capsule form. Sometimes I use one form and sometimes another. The capsules offer the benefit of essentially no carbs and the powder tastes great. I don’t break open the capsules.

  • Robert Danaher at

    David: Thanks for the heads up on this subject. This is the first I have heard of this (as is so often the case with your newsletters). I looked at the Cocoa Well, which costs about $30 for 60 capsules. How many of these capsules should one take daily for the desired benefit?

    • David Mendosa at

      The study I quoted indicates to me to take two or three capsules per day. That’s what I do, Robert.

  • Clay Massey at


    Would there be any benefit of taking this if one is already taking metformin for prediabetes to help control post pradial levels? It seem like it does the same thing as metformin.

    • David Mendosa at

      Actually, Clay, I see the benefits of chocolate as being in preserving our brains, so whether or not we take metformin I see chocolate’s benefits.

  • Jane at

    David, does the product make the smoothie taste like chocolate?

  • Jane at

    Great. Thanks for the explanation; I will try and get to the store soon and look for Cocoa Well.

  • Helen O'Neill at

    David – the info I got from googling it says it has 11 grams carbohydrate – is this true? Also, when I went to Amazon the pictures like you showed are for capsules. I’m kinda confused (it doesn’t take much). Are you still using a protein powder in your morning shake?

    • David Mendosa at

      Dear Helen,

      You don’t say WHICH product you are referring to. But it’s certainly not one of those I mention in my article. The Nutrition Facts label on the CocoaVia unsweetened dark chocolate that I have been for me says that one packet has 4g of carbs. The capsules are of course even less: 3 of them have 1g of carbs.

      Best regards,

  • Jane at

    David, How do you eat this product?

    • David Mendosa at

      Dear Jane,

      I am actually drinking it in a shake with almond milk right and stevia now.

      Best regards,