It's possible that people attempting to lose weight don't need to cut chocolate out of their diets completely.
According to a recent study supported by the government and included roughly one thousand healthy adults, people who consume chocolate regularly have a lower body mass index than those who claim to use it on a less regular basis.
According to the study's findings, participants who stated that they had chocolate five times per week had a body mass index (BMI) that was approximately one point lower, on average, than those who stated that they consumed chocolate less frequently. One point on the BMI scale is about equivalent to five pounds of weight for a woman who is 5 feet 6 inches tall and weighs 125 pounds.
Even though persons who consumed chocolate regularly reported eating a higher total calorie and saturated fat intake than those who consumed chocolate less frequently, according to the findings of some researchers. This fact suggests that the calories in chocolate may be balanced out by the presence of other components that speed up the metabolism.
And also, according to Beatrice A. Golomb, MD, Ph.D., an associate professor of medicine at the University of California, San Diego, "With modest amounts of chocolate, they may have the effect of being free calories or even better than free — at least, the relationships look that way."
But, which type? Dark or milk chocolate?
Many people consider quality dark chocolate over milk chocolate. They say the former is healthier because it contains beneficial components such as polyphenols, flavonols, and catechins. This is one reason why dark chocolate is popular.
It has been associated with various positive health effects, including improved cardiovascular health, reduced inflammation, and improved cognitive function.
The recent designation of dark chocolate as a superfood has led many individuals to question whether or not it may assist with weight loss.
This article takes a more in-depth look at the data to evaluate whether or not eating chocolate can assist you in your efforts to shed excess pounds.
Potential Health Benefits
When it comes to weight loss, chocolate consumption may offer several possible benefits to the consumer.
1. It's been found that if you eat dark chocolate, you are less likely to have heart disease and stroke.
The potential impact that dark chocolate may have in enhancing cardiovascular health is one of the most significant benefits that researchers highlight. Eating chocolate weekly was connected with an 8 percent lower chance of having one's arteries get blocked, according to the findings of a systematic review and meta-analysis that was published in July 2020 in the European Journal of Preventive Cardiology.
Another large study, one published in May 2021 in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, analyzed data from more than 188,000 veterans and concluded that consuming approximately 1 ounce of chocolate regularly was associated with a lower risk of coronary artery disease.
According to research, the flavonoids found in dark chocolate are the components that help keep a healthy heart. These substances help create nitric oxide, allowing blood arteries to relax and blood pressure to fall, per a March 2017 in the American Journal of Physiology: Cell Physiology.
Due to the observational nature of the majority of this research, participants may have underreported the amount of chocolate they consumed. Another limitation of the studies is that they cannot directly prove a cause-and-effect relationship.
Even though this potential for the mistake was taken into account in a meta-analysis published in July 2017 in the journal Nutrients, the researchers concluded that chocolate was likely beneficial in reducing the risk of adverse effects on heart health, stroke, and type 2 diabetes.
2. It increases the body's sensitivity to insulin.
There is some evidence to suggest that eating dark chocolate can help enhance your body's sensitivity to insulin. Insulin is the hormone responsible for transporting sugar out of your bloodstream and into your cells, where it can be used as a source of energy.
This may be related to higher weight loss and decreased fat accumulation, both of which are connected with lower insulin levels in the blood, which can assist in lowering insulin levels in the blood.
According to specific preliminary investigations, dark chocolate may help improve blood sugar regulation; however, more research is required.
This may help reduce spikes and dips in blood sugar levels, leading to symptoms such as increased hunger.
3. Those who ate chocolate had less feelings of hunger as well as appetite.
According to a number of studies, eating dark chocolate can help reduce food cravings and enhance feelings of fullness, both of which can support successful weight loss.
In a study involving 12 women, both smelling and eating dark chocolate led to a reduction in appetite as well as a lower level of the hormone ghrelin, which is responsible for stimulating hunger.
In a second, more limited study involving only 16 individuals, researchers evaluated the effects of consuming milk chocolate with dark chocolate. They discovered that participants who consumed dark chocolate felt less hungry and more full and satisfied after eating it.
In addition to this, compared to the participants eating milk chocolate, they only had 17 percent fewer calories during the subsequent meal.
Consuming dark chocolate led to more considerable decreases in food intake than eating white and milk chocolate, according to the findings of a study conducted on a group of 14 women who had reached postmenopausal age.
However, more research is required to analyze the possible effects of dark chocolate on appetite and the amount of food consumed in comparison to the impact of other foods.
4. It enhances mood.
Multiple studies have concluded that eating dark chocolate may benefit both mental health and mood. This can ensure that you are feeling your very best, which can help you lose weight.
One study including 13,626 individuals found that those who consumed more significant quantities of dark chocolate had a 57 percent decreased risk of suffering depression symptoms compared to those who did not routinely drink dark chocolate.
A second, more limited study showed that women whose diets included daily consumption of 1.5 ounces (40 grams) of dark chocolate had lower levels of stress over two weeks.
In addition to this, a research study involving 72 participants demonstrated that the consumption of a drink made of dark chocolate daily for thirty days led to enhanced levels of self-reported serenity and contentment compared to the consumption of a placebo.
Additional research is required to evaluate whether the possible mood-boosting advantages of dark chocolate may also be suitable for weight loss.
It has been suggested that eating dark chocolate can assist increase insulin sensitivity, reducing feelings of hunger and appetite, and boost mood, all of which may contribute to weight loss.
5. It gets rid of stress-induced weight gain.
Did you know that being under a significant amount of stress can cause you to put on extra weight? Cortisol is a steroid hormone that, when levels are elevated due to stress, promotes an increase in blood sugar levels, suppresses the immune system, and makes it easier for the body to break down fat.
An overly active hunger is stimulated by excessively high cortisol levels, which may even result in binge eating in some people. The consumption of dark chocolate raises levels of the feel-good chemicals endorphin and serotonin in the brain, which can help lessen feelings of anxiety. Think about how a small amount of dark chocolate could fit into your overall strategy for managing stress.
6. It suppresses the production of free radicals and could be useful in the prevention of cancer.
The body of research suggesting that dark chocolate may offer some degree of protection against certain forms of cancer is still relatively small, but it is rising. According to earlier studies, antioxidants guard our cells against the harm caused by free radicals, which are molecules of unstable oxygen and are thought to be responsible for aging and disease.
According to Dr. DuBost, "when you have too many free radicals in your body, they start to assault your cells," and this can, over time, contribute to low-grade inflammation as well as specific diseases such as cancer, and heart disease, and Alzheimer's.
The American Cancer Society reports that eating chocolate, which is loaded with flavonoids, as part of a diet rich in flavonoids can help prevent cell damage, which is frequently the first step in developing several cancers. One of the many flavonoids in chocolate is called epicatechin. Previous studies have shown that this compound is thought to be responsible for the cancer-fighting benefits of chocolate.
According to the data provided by the USDA, chocolate is also a vital source of magnesium. A study published in January 2022 in the journal Cell discovered that immune cells in the body could only target abnormal or contaminated cells in an environment rich in magnesium.
However, most studies are limited because they are conducted solely on animals or cell cultures. Furthermore, the amount of chocolate intake required to prevent cancer potentially is significantly higher than the amount advised as a safe daily dose for humans.
7. It is beneficial to your skin (in more ways than one).
According to the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, dark chocolate is loaded with healthy vitamins and minerals for your skin. Some examples of these include copper, iron, magnesium, and manganese. For example, manganese encourages the creation of collagen, a protein that has a role in maintaining a youthful and healthy appearance of the skin.
Several earlier studies have also identified the high quantities of antioxidants contained in dark chocolate to have the potential to shield the skin from the damaging ultraviolet (UV) radiation that is emitted by the sun.
Other studies have failed to demonstrate any substantial protective effects of antioxidant-rich chocolate against UV radiation. However, these studies have shown improvements in the flexibility of skin that has been exposed to the sun, although the actual mechanism behind this is unknown.
8. You may exercise more.
Another advantage of reducing your calorie intake with chocolate may encourage you to get up off the couch and resume your regular exercise routine. It is common knowledge that physical activity, coupled with a healthy diet, play a significant role in any program designed to aid in weight loss; nonetheless, many dieters find this aspect the most difficult to master.
Because it includes substances with anti-inflammatory effects, dark chocolate can help your body feel better. You may feel minor discomfort both while exercising and afterward. When you are well and happy, you have a better chance of starting and maintaining an exercise routine.
9. It's possible that eating dark chocolate may help raise "good" cholesterol while lowering "bad" cholesterol.
A handful of almonds, dark chocolate, and unsweetened cocoa showed a significant drop in low-density lipoproteins (LDL), also known as "bad" cholesterol, in the overweight and obese participants of a published study in November 2017 in the Journal of the American Heart Association. This finding explains why dark chocolate is also touted as a food that lowers cholesterol, which explains why the study results showed a significant drop.
According to DuBost, the cocoa butter found in dark chocolate may also be responsible for the elevation of high-density lipoproteins (HDL), also known as "good" cholesterol. According to the National Library of Medicine, cocoa butter contains oleic acid and monounsaturated fat.
This is the same type of lipid found in olive oil, which is known to be good for the heart. On the other hand, cocoa butter contains a large amount of saturated fat, which can be hazardous to the heart in excess, according to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). This fact further emphasizes the importance of maintaining proper portion control.
It would be premature to conclude that chocolate is a cure-all for cholesterol, according to DuBost, because many of the studies on chocolate and good cholesterol have been conducted over relatively short periods.
10. Dark chocolate is a delicious treat that offers several other health benefits.
They can say one thing with absolute certainty about dark chocolate: it includes a significant quantity of various nutrients. According to December 2019 in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, any dark chocolate at least 70 percent contains antioxidants, fiber, potassium, calcium, copper, and magnesium. Of course, the darker the chocolate, the better it is, but any dark chocolate that is at least that dark contains antioxidants.
It also has a significant amount of calories and fat, so you should be aware of the amount you consume regularly. Amidor adds that organic is always best since it is farmed without the use of chemical fertilizers and pesticides; even though the processing of each brand of chocolate is unique, Amidor insists that organic is always superior (look for Rainforest Alliance Certified products). She also suggests that you constantly examine the ingredient list to ensure that you are drinking chocolate with a limited number of components that are as natural as possible.
Although there is a possibility that eating dark chocolate could help with weight loss, there are also many possible drawbacks to consider.
Dark chocolate has a moderately high total fat and calorie content.
There are 155 calories and over 9 grams of fat in a portion of dark chocolate that is 1 ounce (28 grams) in size.
A single serving may include one-half to one-third of the total number of calories found in a typical chocolate bar, depending on the exact brand and product.
There are varieties of dark chocolate that include significant quantities of added sugar, which can be detrimental to one's health.
Sugar that is added to produce results in an increase in the total number of calories the product contains and has the potential to contribute to the development of chronic diseases such as diabetes, liver disease, and heart disease.
Therefore, even though eating dark chocolate may be compatible with a diet aimed at weight loss, it is essential to select kinds of good quality and refrain from consuming excessive amounts.
A chocolate serving size of approximately 1 ounce (28 grams) at a time and selecting a product low in added sugar and containing at least 70 percent cocoa will yield the best possible outcomes.
Dark chocolate's high caloric and fat content may contribute to weight gain if taken in large quantities. Dark chocolate also has a high percentage of cocoa solids. Some varieties also have significant amounts of added sugar, increasing the total number of calories and developing chronic diseases.
The bottom line
Should you eat chocolate for weight loss?
There are a few different ways to consume dark chocolate that may facilitate weight loss. These ways include increasing insulin sensitivity, suppressing hunger and appetite, and improving mood.
However, it is essential to remember that dark chocolate has a high calorie and fat content and that many different versions have a significant quantity of added sugar.
For this reason, it is preferable to buy high-quality goods that are low in added sugar and contain at least 70 percent cocoa. Additionally, it is best to enjoy it as part of a balanced, well-rounded diet.
One fortunate thing about dark chocolate is that it may be obtained in bite-sized pieces individually wrapped. This may make it easier to control one's portion size.
Keep in mind that you can still lose weight even if you eat chocolate; moderation is key!