Diet sticker 101: Dark Chocolate to the rescue!
If you are a lover of chocolate but still need a balance so you don’t have health issues, dark chocolate is the best treat. While enjoying its benefits, you get to munch on all its goodness. This is a perfect illustration of killing two birds with one stone. Eating chocolate every day probably seems like the last way to lose weight, but research suggests dark chocolate may play a role in controlling appetite, which in turn could help with weight loss.
Neuroscientist Will Clower, PhD, wrote a book on the subject called Eat Chocolate, Lose Weight, which describes how eating a bit of dark chocolate before or after meals triggers hormones that signal to the brain you’re full. Of course, eating more than the recommended amount per day can counteract any potential weight loss.
What is dark chocolate?
Quality dark chocolate is rich in fiber, iron, magnesium, copper, manganese, and a few other minerals. Chocolate comes from cacao, a plant with high levels of minerals and antioxidants. Although the cocoa in dark chocolate also contains antioxidants called flavonoids, which may provide several health benefits, it is advisable to take it in moderation.
Dark chocolate and weight loss
Dark chocolate may aid weight loss through several mechanisms, such as by improving insulin sensitivity, reducing hunger and appetite, and enhancing mood. It’s best to choose a chocolate with a high percentage of cocoa — 70% or higher — and to eat it in moderation. Flavanols in dark chocolate are a type of polyphenol, which are defense chemicals produced by plants that have been associated with a range of health benefits. They are antioxidants, meaning they help protect your cells from damage by free radicals, which are unstable molecules that can cause significant damage.
Dark chocolate has monounsaturated fatty acids that improve metabolism and rapidly burn calories. Also, dark chocolate curbs cravings if eaten 20 minutes before a meal. Interestingly, the magnesium and antioxidants in dark chocolate relieve pain and thus encourage one to workout. This can be an added advantage for people struggling to lose weight. Dark chocolate prevents insulin intake. The healthy fats in dark chocolate slow the absorption of sugar into the bloodstream and, therefore, prevent the dreaded insulin spike that transports sugar straight into your fat cells.
High levels of insulin also stop your body’s fat burning system and make you hungry again. Researchers at The University of Copenhagen found that dark chocolate eliminates cravings for sweet, salty and fatty foods alike as it gives one a feeling of satiety. Proponents of the “chocolate-friendly” diet claim eating chocolate 20 minutes before and five minutes after lunch and dinner cuts your appetite by up to 50 percent. Experts say dieters who eat chocolate occasionally are also able to maintain weight loss as they don’t feel deprived.
Other potential good in getting a dark chocolate
- Dark chocolate reduces the risk of diabetes, stroke and cancer
Research suggests it’s the flavonoids in dark chocolate that maintain heart health. These chemicals help produce nitric oxide, which causes blood vessels to relax and blood pressure to fall. Eating chocolate every day doesn’t sound like the best way to prevent diabetes, but studies have shown that healthy amounts of dark chocolate rich in cacao could actually improve how the body metabolizes glucose when eaten as part of a healthy diet.
According to the American Cancer Society, eating a diet rich in flavonoids, which chocolate is full of, can help prevent cell damage that is often the precursor to many cancers. Past research has found that of the many flavonoids in chocolate, one known as epicatechin is believed to be responsible for its cancer-fighting properties.
- Dark chocolate can be a dieter’s friend
Alongside other activities like exercise and a strict diet for weight loss, dark chocolate is particularly a smart choice for dieters. Dark chocolate is bittersweet. Whereas sugar stimulates appetite, bitterness actually suppresses it. So those are needed benefits for a dieter. To keep chocolate on the healthy side, keep it dark and your portions small.
- Dark chocolate is a super boost for great skin
Dark chocolate not only releases happy hormones in the body, but also makes your skin happy. Dark chocolate is loaded with tons of nutrients and minerals like calcium, iron, copper, magnesium, selenium, manganese, zinc and vitamins A, B1, C, D, and E. These, along with antioxidants protect your skin from UV rays, soothe blemishes and redness, increase collagen production, etc. Along with this, it has anti-inflammatory properties that relieve irritated skin.
- Dark chocolate improves cognition and boosts mood.
According to one study of 13,626 people, those who consumed higher amounts of dark chocolate had a 57% lower chance of experiencing depressive symptoms than those who did not regularly consume dark chocolate.
Therefore, while dark chocolate can likely fit into a weight loss diet, it’s important to stick to high-quality varieties and avoid going overboard. For best results, stick to around 1 ounce (28 grams) at a time and pick a product that’s low in added sugar and contains at least 70% cocoa. The recommended dose of this sweet treat should only be limited to 30–40 grams per day.
Eating more than that could mean that one may be consuming too many calories along with a greater intake of caffeine that can cause side effects like nausea, racing heartbeat, and sleeplessness. Enjoy and consume in moderation.