The year is 2022 and the world has recently experienced a "chocoholic" phenomenon in the last few decades. It is estimated that more than 50% of the Indian population are chocoholics. International surveys also suggest that about 40% of the world's population is addicted to chocolate.
Although people love chocolate for many reasons, weight loss enthusiasts are often dubious about the effects of this sweet confection on their waistlines.
However, real chocolate is rich in health-promoting substances that when consumed moderately can actually promote weight loss when used as part of an overall healthy diet.
This article aims to discuss whether or not dark chocolate makes a good weight loss aid.
Chocolate is produced from cocoa beans, which are actually seeds from the pods of a tropical tree. The seeds are processed and blended with cocoa butter to produce chocolate.
It is believed that chocolate was first consumed by the Mayans and Aztecs. During this period it was believed that the cocoa seeds could promote fertility and virility.
In the 16th century, cocoa seeds reached Europe and chocolate began to be consumed as a chocolate bar. During the 19th century, chocolate became available to everyone due to advances in manufacturing processes.
Today dark chocolate with a cocoa content of 70% or more is widely consumed as a confectionery, primarily for its rich flavor and texture.
The term "chocolate" refers to any food that contains at least 20% cocoa solids by weight (this includes dark chocolate).
Ingredients of Dark Chocolate
The key ingredients of chocolate are cocoa beans, sugar, and cocoa butter. The higher the amount of cocoa content in dark chocolate, the lower will be its sugar content.
In addition to these ingredients, some of the large chocolate manufacturers use the following in their dark chocolate:
• Cocoa Solids
• Vegetable Fat (Emulsifier)
• Milk Solids
• Soy Lecithin (Prevents blooming or grayish discoloration of the chocolate)
However, bean-to-bar chocolate makers and artisan chocolate makers like BeeTee's Melt Chocolates uses only Cacao Bean, Cacao butter, and Sugar in their dark chocolates. Thus making the chocolates more nutritious and healthy.
Composition per 100gms
The composition of real Dark Chocolates are as follows:
Cocoa content will be in the range of 70% - 100%. Cocoa content will be in the form of cacao beans or cocoa nibs or cocoa butter. There's nothing as delicious as chocolate bars with a rich cocoa flavor.
The higher amount of cocoa beans used in making it, the more intense will be the flavor and aroma. Chocolate made from 100% cocoa bean is called pure or plain dark chocolate.
Sugar content in dark chocolate will be in the range of 20% - 50%. The amount of sugar added to the chocolate affects its flavor and texture.
Sugar imparts a sweet flavor and enhances the taste of cocoa so it is used in relatively high amounts in dark chocolates.
Is Dark Chocolate Good For You?
Dark chocolate has been scientifically proven to promote many aspects of health including:
- Improved Blood Flow
- Cardiovascular Health
- Reduced Stress and Tension (Anxiety and Depression)
- Improved Quality of Sleep
- Reduces Body Fat Percentage (Increases Lean Muscle Mass)
- Nutritional - it also contains antioxidants and minerals such as iron, magnesium, copper, and zinc.
As mentioned earlier dark chocolate is high in cocoa content which has been shown to increase serotonin levels in the brain. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that stimulates cells in the brain and makes you feel good.
A few squares of dark chocolate after a stressful day is enough to improve one's quality of sleep and release tension.
Cocoa also contains anandamide which is responsible for feelings of euphoria, this ingredient combined with caffeine can produce intense effects on moods and provide a "high." A low dose can curb depression by lifting one's spirits while boosting self-esteem.
Dark Chocolate and Weight Loss
The key to losing weight is not only burning more calories during the day but also eating better. A dark chocolate bar can be a healthy snack as long as you consume it in moderation and with some ingredients that will help you lose weight.
CNN Health says "studies show eating 1 - 2 squares of dark chocolate every day may help you lose weight, lower your blood pressure and improve your cholesterol profile."
Let's see how dark chocolate can help you in your weight reduction goals.
Dark chocolate acts as a mild appetite suppressant:
Dark chocolate contains substances that help control weight by acting as an appetite suppressant. Catechins are plant-based micronutrients found in cacao beans that have strong effects on weight loss.
Catechins boost the metabolism and aid fat burning, making them a valuable aid for people who work out regularly or watch what they eat.
They also contain other ingredients helpful for losing weight such as fiber, iron, magnesium, copper, zinc, and polyphenols.
Dark chocolate can reduce insulin levels:
Regular consumption of dark chocolate has been linked to lower insulin resistance and lower levels of blood glucose and insulin.
If insulin levels are lowered, the body can better target fat cells for energy rather than storing it. Studies found that eating dark chocolate might also help with weight loss by lowering insulin levels.
Dark chocolate can reduce the formation of fat cells:
Dark chocolate contains catechins which can inhibit the formation of new fat cells and also promote the loss of pre-existing ones.
Dark chocolate has compounds that have been shown to help stop the formation of new fat cells. It's a good idea to eat dark chocolate which is 70 percent or higher cacao.
Dark chocolate reduces stress levels:
Studies have found that dark chocolate may help reduce cortisol levels and increase serotonin levels.
Cortisol has been referred to as the "stress hormone" because it induces stress and anxiety. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that makes us feel good and relaxed.
Dark chocolate helps relax and calm you and relieves stress. Studies have indicated that increased stress has a direct correlation to weight gain.
Dark chocolate increases metabolism
A boost in metabolism means that more fat is burnt each day without much exercising or doing anything extra. Cocoa butter is proven to increase metabolism,
A study was conducted where men were asked to eat 90 grams of dark chocolate for two weeks. They were also required to walk at least 30 minutes daily during the experiment. After 2 weeks it was seen that they had an increase of 20% in their metabolic rate, which is very good for weight loss.
Dark Chocolate creates a feeling of fullness
Dark chocolate contains serotonin which is released when you eat it. This makes you feel good and full.
The fiber in dark chocolate also helps to create a feeling of fullness. When combined these two ingredients will help reduce overall calorie intake throughout the day, aiding weight loss.
Dark Chocolate increases insulin sensitivity:
Insulin sensitivity is important for weight management. If you are insulin resistant, your body will struggle to remove sugar from the blood and deposit it into cells. The result is excess calories staying in the bloodstream which can lead to weight gain.
It is medically reviewed that if you increase insulin sensitivity, your body will make better use of the food you eat. This helps in maintaining a healthy weight. Eat chocolate regularly to maintain insulin sensitivity.
Dark Chocolate boosts thermogenesis:
Thermogenesis is the body's process of burning calories. When you eat dark chocolate, your digestive system breaks it down into smaller molecules which are used to release heat.
This increases the internal temperature which causes more energy to be expended during digestion, increasing thermogenesis and weight loss.
A study found that participants who ate dark chocolate for a week had a significant increase in the levels of thermogenesis in their bodies.
Dark chocolate increases catecholamines:
Catecholamines are hormones that help produce energy from fat cells. Dark chocolate contains catecholamines which make the body burn more calories and lose weight. This means that the body is using fat deposits for energy.
Healthy Fats found in Dark Chocolate:
Dark chocolate is filled with healthy fats which are good for your heart. They also help you feel full longer and reduce overall calorie consumption throughout the day.
The main healthy fats in dark chocolate are oleic acid, stearic acid & palmitic acid. This helps you to eat less and lose weight over a period of time.
Dark chocolate is high in fiber:
Dark chocolate is also high in fiber, which slows down the rate at which the stomach empties and makes you feel fuller for longer.
Dark chocolate is a high source of minerals such as potassium, magnesium, and iron. A deficiency of any of these minerals can increase insulin resistance and lead to weight gain.
How much dark chocolate should I eat?
There's no doubt that when eaten in excess, dark chocolate can add to your daily calorie intake leading to weight gain.
It's very important to take into account moderation when choosing a product so as not to gain weight from the calories contained within it.
Experts recommend that a good serving of the chocolate should no more than 5-10 grams per day or 100 grams per week or 5% of your daily calorie intake.
Ways To Make Dark Chocolate Healthy For Weight Loss
Some of the ways to make more health benefit out of the are chocolates are as follows,
- Always choose 70% or higher cocoa content in your chocolates.
- Look at the ingredients list and choose chocolates with as few ingredients as possible.
- Choose dark chocolate over milk chocolate and white chocolate.
- If you like the taste of coconut, then go for coconut milk dark chocolates.
- Keep your portion size small.
- Make sure to burn more calories than you consume.
Best time to eat dark chocolate
The best time to eat dark chocolates is either as a snack between meals or as an accompaniment to your meal.
If you're hungry, then have some dark chocolates as a snack, but be mindful of how much you intake as it can affect your weight loss goals. You need to aim for one serving per day and not exceed three to get more health benefits.
Pick your artisanal Dark Chocolate
Dark chocolate for weight loss is a result of the effect it has on many aspects of your body such as insulin sensitivity, thermogenesis, and catecholamines.
Consuming dark chocolates in moderation can be quite beneficial to your health too. Incorporating dark chocolate into your daily diet not only helps you lose weight but also reduces the risk of heart disease.
Grab your dark chocolate from Bean to Bar artisanal chocolate maker who makes chocolates with limited all-natural ingredients in micro-batches like BeeTee's Melt Chocolates.