The Effects of Dark Chocolate for Reducing Weight

If you’re trying to lose weight, no doubt you’ve been told to stay away from chocolate. Well, it’s time to break that taboo: Dark chocolate has benefits such as helping with weight loss, stabilizing blood sugar, controlling appetite and reducing cravings. It also tends to improve your mood, curbing your desire to consume comfort foods.

Overall Health Benefits

According to Weight Watchers, good-quality dark chocolate provides a portion of the same healthy benefits of most leafy green vegetables. When enjoyed in small quantities, dark chocolate can help lower your blood pressure, increase circulation and prevent arteriosclerosis, all very important aspects if you are obese. The flavonoids in dark chocolate help reduce insulin resistance and prevent spikes in blood-sugar levels, discouraging you from overeating.

Improves Metabolism

A study performed at Queen Margaret University revealed promising results on how dark chocolate affects fat and carbohydrate metabolism. Dark chocolate has an impressive impact on how the body synthesizes fatty acids, thus reducing the digestion and absorption of fats and carbohydrates. As a result, the person eating chocolate experiences a feeling of satiety. The trick is to choose the right type of chocolate. Stick to dark chocolate that contains at least 70 percent cacao.

Controls Appetite

Three hormones -- insulin, ghrelin and leptin -- control appetite. Insulin controls the transfer of sugar from the bloodstream to the cells in your body. Ghrelin is produced to increase your appetite, while leptin has the opposite effect. People who are insulin-resistant lose the ability to feel full. A study performed in the Netherlands showed that dark chocolate decreased insulin resistance and lowered the levels of ghrelin. Twelve women participated in two 60-minute studies. During the first 60-minute study, all 12 women ate a 100-gram mixture of chocolate that consisted of 85 percent cacao and 12.5 grams of sugar. During the second 60-minute study, six of the women only smelled the chocolate, while the other six did not. The women who either ate or smelled the chocolate showed a drastic reduction in ghrelin and satiated appetites. No reduction in appetite or ghrelin levels was recorded for the control group.

Enhances Your Sense of Well-Being

The polyphenols in dark chocolate have a profound effect on your sense of well-being. When you feel good, you tend to eat less to seek comfort. A clinical study by Swinburne University, Australia, demonstrated how the polyphenols in dark chocolate increased calmness and a sense of contentment in those who had consumed dark chocolate for 30 days. Dark chocolate contains anandamide, a type of lipid known as “the bliss chemical.” This chemical doesn’t stick around for long because it is easily broken down. Dark chocolate, however, contains chemicals that inhibit the breakdown of this lipid, giving you a lasting sense of peace and well-being.

The Caloric Cost of Chocolate

This tasty indulgence does not come without a price. One ounce of dark chocolate containing 60 percent or more of cacao equals 170 calories. To gain the most of dark chocolate’s benefits, eat it in moderation -- two to three times per week should suffice. If your hankering for chocolate consumes your sense of reasoning, however, there is a healthy option. Try adding 1 tablespoon of raw cacao nibs, the essence from which all chocolate is derived, to yogurt and oatmeal. This quick fix is only 70 calories.

Fat Content

Dark chocolate does contain saturated fat. Not all saturated fat is bad for you, and good fats are necessary when trying to lose weight. Dark chocolate contains three types of fat: oleic acid, stearic acid and palmitic acid. Oleic acid is a monounsaturated fat that lowers your cholesterol. Stearic acid, when metabolized, turns into oleic acid. Palmitic acid has been shown to raise cholesterol levels; however, when combined with oleic and stearic acid, the overall effects on cholesterol are irrelevant.

Encourages Exercise

The anti-inflammatory constituents in chocolate, combined with its generous supply of magnesium, might leave your body feeling less pain. When your body feels good, exercising is far more appealing. Enjoying an ounce of dark chocolate that contains 70 percent or more cacao with a glass of red wine at night offers pain relief. Dark chocolate’s stimulating effect makes that extra mile seem like a short jaunt. No worries, though: An ounce of dark chocolate only contains 23 milligrams of caffeine.