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Can dark chocolate benefit weight loss?

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chocolate bar with almonds

Can dark chocolate benefits weight loss? It’s a comment that’s often made and repeated with a question mark at the end of the sentence – either as a definitive statement in itself, or as a hope or wish. After all, wouldn’t it be great if some form of chocolate was good for us. A bit like all those studies that say a glass of red wine a day will help us live longer.

In its raw form, cocoa is very high in a raw plant nutrient called flavonols. Now, research tests seem to point to the flavonol content found in dark chocolate can improve insulin sensitivity in healthy people. What’s insulin? Well, it’s a complex hormone found in numerous biochemical reactions in the body. One of its role is in helping to process whether food is either absorbed into the body or stored as fat.

So, the more your body is insulin sensitive, the better it can successfully absorb carbs and fats such as sugar. Dark chocolate, with it’s higher cocoa levels, is better than milk chocolate because the latter’s added sugar reacts with the insulin. And the effect? Cravings start to occur which can lead to changes in eating patterns and short term weight gain. 

So, we know about the role dark chocolate has in inhibiting the body’s resistance to insulin. But several studies have also highlighted that when eaten in moderation, dark chocolate can also help to lower blood pressure, increase circulation and increase levels of serotonin and endorphins which make us feel happy and better about ourselves. All of which can have a positive effect on any efforts to lose weight. 

In terms of nutrition, dark chocolate contains healthy fats which don’t adversely affect cholesterol levels and slow the absorption of sugars into the blood stream.

These healthy fats go by the name of monounsaturated fatty acids which can help to speed up your metabolism. This helps you to burn calories and fat at a faster rate. In turn, this can help with losing weight healthily.

What’s more they also include essential minerals such as including magnesium, calcium, iron, zinc, copper. All of which may help in weight loss and prevent cravings for sweet, salty and fatty foods.

So, if dark chocolate benefits weight loss, how much dark chocolate should we consume?

Most research points to a few ounces a day only. Others describe the size as a thumbnail in diameter.

All of which leads to another question. If dark chocolate benefits weight loss, then when’s the best time to eat it?

As dark chocolate may help with cravings, then in between meals or when you feel hungry may be one starting point. Other studies have concentrated on the weight loss benefits of eating dark chocolate before and after a meal to help control appetite and then prevent over indulging afterwards

Some research indicates immediate after a workout is a good time to eat dark chocolate. That’s because when you exercise you increase your tissue sensitivity to insulin. So why not use a bar of dark chocolate as a tempting reward after a keep fit class or a high energy aerobics class.

Put that way, the more you exercise, the more the beneficial effects of dark chocolate will be.  Sounds like a win win, to me!

So, whenever you’re nibbling away at a little piece of good quality dark chocolate - remember that it can be enjoyed as a healthy treat and think about the ways that dark chocolate benefits weight loss.

And don’t forget that dark chocolate isn’t just found in a chocolate bar. Try a dark chocolate nut spread or a dark chocolate smoothie as another relaxing way to enjoy the antioxidants of dark chocolate after a burn out at the gym.

 Nick

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