One of the top questions searched for on Google is “can eating dark chocolate help you lose weight?” The answer from researchers is “yes.” But this comes with a caveat—you need to eat chocolate that is at least 70% cocoa to enjoy the health benefits of this ancient elixir.
Milk chocolate and semi-sweet chocolate have too much milk and sugar to be considered health foods. But dark chocolate is richly concentrated in amino acids, minerals, and flavanols, earning it superfood status.
What Is Dark Chocolate?
Dark chocolate is made from cacao beans. After the cacao beans are harvested, they can be fermented and dried, roasted, or cold pressed. Cacao is considered a superfood because of its potent antioxidant power and high concentration of flavanols.
It should be noted that there are no official guidelines for the amount of cocoa or cacao required in a product called “dark chocolate.” Choose a chocolate bar that contains at least 70% cacao or cocoa to reap the health benefits of this superfood.
If you have not eaten dark chocolate before, at first bite, you may miss the sweetness of milk chocolate. Dark chocolate is slightly bitter on the tongue, but in time the earthy and rich flavor is bound to grow on you. To cut the bitterness, try eating dark chocolate with a few fresh strawberries or raspberries. The sweetness of the berries complements the essence of dark chocolate, making it more palatable.
Dark Chocolate Nutrition Facts
Dark chocolate is an excellent source of iron, manganese, copper, essential amino acids, magnesium, dietary fiber, and health-boosting flavanols. According to the T.H. Chan School of Public Health at Harvard, flavanols in cocoa are known for their cardioprotective characteristics and in the long run, could reduce the risk of diabetes.
Dark chocolate is relatively high in calories. The exact calorie count depends on the percentage of chocolate in the bar and the other ingredients. Generally, you can count on 1 ounce of dark chocolate containing between 150 and 180 calories, which is why most nutritionists and physicians recommend eating no more than 1 ounce a day.
As a special note, when selecting dark chocolate for weight loss, it is vital to stay away from “Dutch-processed cocoa,” as research shows flavanols are substantially reduced after cocoa has been treated with alkali compounds. Instead of “Dutch-processed cocoa” look for cocoa powder marketed as “natural” or “minimally processed” to make sure you are getting the fat-fighting flavanols and nutrients found in cacao.
Can Eating Dark Chocolate Help You Lose Weight?
Yes! Dark chocolate is loaded with nutrients, fiber, and flavanols that contribute to overall wellness and health. And as you will see below, eating dark chocolate in moderation can boost weight loss. Here are six ways eating dark chocolate can help you lose weight.
1. Dark Chocolate Eases Food Cravings
Dark chocolate is a good source of dietary fiber, and according to Harvard Medical School, getting more fiber can help you lose weight. Fiber helps keep you full longer as it is fighting LDL cholesterol in your body. Some scientists believe that dark chocolate’s bitter flavor actually slows digestion, resulting in less insulin production and fewer cravings.
2. Dark Chocolate Suppresses Appetite
Researchers from the Netherlands have identified that even just smelling dark chocolate suppresses the appetite. In a small study, researchers determined that smelling dark chocolate and eating dark chocolate both induce similar appetite suppression. The authors of the study correlate the satiated response with decreased levels of ghrelin, known as the “hunger hormone.”
3. Cocoa Flavanols Alter Fat and Carb Utilization
According to a recent systematic review published in the journal Sports Medicine, the flavanols in dark chocolate improve vascular function, reduce exercise-induced oxidative stress, and alter the way carbohydrates and fat are utilized during exercise. Researchers from around the world, including Belgium, France, and Brazil, contributed to the study and urge further exploration into the beneficial effects of cocoa flavanols in fat and glucose metabolism.
4. Dark Chocolate Reduces Fasting Blood Sugar Levels
When blood sugar levels rise, many people find their cravings for high-calorie foods, sweets, and treats increase. But now we know that eating dark chocolate reduces fasting blood glucose levels. The authors of the study published in the British Journal of Nutrition found that eating 20 grams of dark chocolate with 500 milligrams of polyphenols for two weeks resulted in a reduction of fasting blood glucose levels and improvement of both systolic and diastolic blood pressure readings.
5. Reduced Calorie Diet and a Dark Chocolate Snack Improve Weight Loss
A study published in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association studied the effects of a reduced calorie diet with either a dark chocolate snack or a non-chocolate snack on obese premenopausal women. After 18 weeks, the dark chocolate snack group had a decrease in waist circumference of 5.7 centimeters, reduction in hip circumference of 5.8 centimeters, 3.4% decrease in body fat percentage, and a 3.9-kilogram loss of fat mass.
The non-chocolate snack group experienced a decrease in waist circumference of 3.5 centimeters, reduction in hip circumference of 5.4 centimeters, 3.1% decrease in body fat percentage, and a 3.6-kilogram loss of fat mass. The dark chocolate snack group did have slightly better numbers, and the authors of the study urge further investigation.
6. Dark Chocolate Improves Mood
Depression, overeating, and obesity are linked—so improving mood may help you lose weight. According to a randomized placebo-controlled trial published in the Journal of Psychopharmacology, the polyphenols in cocoa improve mood scores in just 30 days. Scientists studied healthy middle-aged adults and found mood improved. The authors of the study urge further exploration to see how the polyphenols in cocoa may improve anxiety and depression.