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Jun 08, 2012

Chocolate and Weight Control

Eating the right kinds of chocolate in moderation may aid in weight control.

Most experts agree that weight control comes down to one simple concept—consuming no more calories than your body burns each day. To achieve weight loss, reducing calorie intake, increasing physical activity or a combination of both usually gets the job done. But a recent study shows that not just how much we eat, but what we eat—including chocolate—may play an important role in weight control.

In a study published in the March 26 issue of Archives of Internal Medicine, researchers surveyed nearly 1,000 individuals to collect information on their eating habits and weight. Included in the survey was the question, “How many times a week do you consume chocolate?” What researchers found was intriguing. Not only were those who consumed chocolate on a regular basis (about twice a week) more likely to have a healthier weight, they were also more likely to consume more fat and calories than those who did not eat chocolate regularly. This finding was not due to any differences in exercise, mood, age or sex among study participants.

While these findings are interesting and imply that what we eat might be as important as how much we eat, we shouldn’t run to the grocery store and blindly buy chocolate for better weight control. There are many different types of chocolate and chocolate products, so knowing which ones might promote weight control and heart health is important. Research shows that dark chocolate with a high percentage of cacao boast the greatest health benefits in comparison with other types of more highly processed chocolates with added ingredients. And as with most things in life, moderation is key. Eating a few servings of chocolate a week may help certain individuals improve health, but be sure not to overdo it.

Questions for You to Consider

  • How does chocolate help with weight control?

  • Flavonoids are a type of nutrient found in most plants, including the cocoa bean, which may boast a number of health benefits, including improved weight control. Chocolate that is minimally processed with the greatest amount of cocoa are a good source of flavonoids.
  • Besides chocolate, what other foods contain flavonoids?

  • In addition to cocoa, most fruits, vegetables, herbs and spices contain flavonoids. Flavonoids can also be found in other types of food, including beans, some grains and wine.

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