Chocolate and weight loss… they just don't go together, do they?
After all, you can't be on a diet if you're eating chocolate, right?
Some new research shows that might not be the case. Choosing the right type of dark chocolate may just help you lose more weight than not having any chocolate at all.
Why Is Dark Chocolate So Bitter, Yet So Good For You?
Chocolate is fantastic, packed with antioxidants like resveratrol, and is exceedingly indulgent. But, it can be packed with sugar.
The biggest difference between milk chocolate and dark chocolate is the sugar content and the dairy content.
Milk chocolate has a lot higher amounts of sugar and dairy, and lower amounts of cocoa. On the other hand, dark chocolate has more cocoa and less sugar and dairy.
That means milk chocolate is smoother, easier to melt, and sweeter. Children prefer milk chocolate because of the sweetness.
Dark chocolate having a higher cocoa content and less sugar means more of the cocoa bitterness comes through.
It all comes down to percentages. Dark chocolate is generally 50% cocoa and greater. Milk chocolate is anything less. And if they don't give you a percentage at all, you should assume it's milk chocolate.
Should You Go For Cocoa or Cacao? Yes, There Is A Difference
Some people think this is just a spelling difference, but that's not quite right. Cacao is the raw form of cocoa. The cacao bean is the raw form of chocolate. If it's dried and ground down, it's considered cacao. If it's fermented, roasted, or baked, and then ground, it's cocoa.
Because cacao has less processing, it retains a higher amount of antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients. As a result, it's one of the top five foods in the entire world for antioxidants.
But, raw cacao goes bad quickly and has a very powerful taste. Many people find it too strong.
Even though cocoa has fewer antioxidants and phytonutrients, it still packs a considerable amount. Dark chocolate is among the top 25 antioxidant-rich foods and one of the few processed foods to make the most nutritious foods list.
The Health Benefits of Dark Chocolate for Weight Loss
Dark chocolate helps a tremendous amount of health processes in your body. We'll get to the weight loss ones in just a moment, but we want to hit up some of the other good ones.
Having more antioxidants overall means your body has to deal with fewer free radicals. These free radicals do everything from increasing aging, hurting your heart, increasing the risk of cancer, and increasing your blood pressure.
Having a bit of chocolate before you exercise could help you get a little energy boost and prevent injury and stress.
Several of the flavanols in cocoa studied show they can help improve the nitric oxide levels in your body. This can help relax your blood vessels, increase circulation, and lower your blood pressure.
Chocolate can help increase your mood, as it helps the conversion of tryptophan to serotonin. So, not only does eating chocolate make you happy simply because you're eating chocolate, but it also helps increase your serotonin.
Now, let's take a look at what dark chocolate can do for your weight loss.
Dark chocolate can help reduce the levels of your hormone ghrelin, the hormone that makes you feel hungry. Just the scent of dark chocolate alone can help reduce your appetite. So, a handful of dark chocolate-covered almonds in the afternoon can help satisfy you greatly and provide a good dose of omega-3 fatty acids from the nuts.
It can help reduce total food intake for women who are postmenopausal by helping to keep you feeling full.
Because of the increase in serotonin, you can reduce your stress levels. For women who stress eat, this can be a significant improvement.
Dark chocolate will help improve insulin sensitivity. Although more research is needed, some small studies show that dark chocolate help improve blood sugar control and reduce insulin levels in your blood. High levels of insulin in your blood can cause crashes in blood sugar that can lead to increased hunger and food intake. Simply stabilizing this can help your desire for food decrease and your weight loss increase.
Will dark chocolate help you lose weight on its own? The answer is no.
However, combining between 1 and 2 oz of dark chocolate per day with a diet that's rich in vegetables and getting in proper exercise can significantly increase your odds of losing weight. The dark chocolate helps stabilize your appetite and increase your enjoyment levels.
When you feel good, you'll exercise more and eat better. So, maybe that piece of dark chocolate for dessert is worth it after all, isn't it?