The popular media is hailing dark chocolate as the latest and greatest diet food. Wait…what? Chocolate? The delicious, dark dessert that Iâ€™ve spent a lifetime feeling guilty about?
Actually, scientific research has found that dark chocolate (note that milk chocolate is still considered an enemy of slim thighs everywhere) contains a cocktail of chemicals that have a net positive effect on the body.
Chocolate is made from the cacao bean, a chemically potent little sucker that can affect mood, health and appetite. Cacao beans are a huge source of antioxidants, which combat the ravaging free radicals that the body naturally accumulates. By neutralizing free radicals, antioxidants help prevent inflammation, heart disease and premature aging.
Research has found that cacao beans contain also powerful neurotransmitters , which help to stabilize mood and boost positive feelings. As for the weight loss claims, dark chocolate rates low on the glycemic index, which means it breaks down slowly in the digestive tract. Low glycemic foods promote feelings of fullness and suppress appetite.
Not a bad turn around for dark chocolate. Unfortunately, some have taken this happy news a bit too far. Popular chocolate diet books are now hitting shelves, and the Internet is buzzing with advice to gobble up dark chocolate by the handfuls.
Another one of my momâ€™s favorite sayings was, â€œtoo much a good thing is usually bad.â€ In the case of dark chocolate, sheâ€™s right.
Dark Chocolates nutritional value is legit, but it still contains a high amount of calories and fat. Dieters should only incorporate small amounts of dark chocolate into their daily eating plan. Fifty grams or less of chocolate with at least 60% cacao is more than enough each day.
For those who seriously want to lose weight, chocolate is only a small (albeit a very tasty) piece of the puzzle. Youâ€™re going to slim down the old fashion way by adopting a nutritious diet and committing to a regular exercise plan. However, adding a little dark chocolate to the mix will definitely add a little sweetness to your efforts.
Best of luck!
Dark chocolate and cholesterol?
A recent meta-analysis of studies on dark chocolate and cholesterol levels which included a total of 320 participants found that consumption of dark chocolate resulted in statistically significant reduction in total and LDL cholesterol levels (-6.2 mg/dl and -5.9 mg/dl respectively.)
Dark chocolate and cardiovascular disease?
Researchers from Harvard Medical School conducted a cross-sectional study which included 4970 participants. Â They found that consumption of flavonoid rich dark chocolate is inversely associated with coronary heart disease risk. Â 
- Tokede OA, Gaziano JM, DjoussÃ© L. Effects of cocoa products/dark chocolate on serum lipids: a meta-analysis. Eur J Clin Nutr. 2011 May 11.
- DjoussÃ© L, Hopkins PN, North KE, Pankow JS, Arnett DK, Ellison RC. Chocolate consumption is inversely associated with prevalent coronary heart disease: the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute Family Heart Study. Clin Nutr. 2011 Apr;30(2):182-7. Epub 2010 Sep 19.