Can Dark Chocolate Help You Lose Weight?

Many people believe that there's a relationship between dark chocolate and weight loss. Eating dark chocolate can help you lose weight, but only as a small part of a healthy diet and exercise plan. Learning more about the many benefits of dark chocolate will help improve your health.

Dark chocolate is only a small part of a health diet plan. (Image: YelenaYemchuk/iStock/GettyImages)

Tip

A June 2014 paper in Phytotherapy Research listed the ways that dark chocolate might help you control your body weight. These mechanisms include altering fat-related digestive processes and genetic expression as well as decreasing food craving.

Dark Chocolate and Weight Loss

The many varieties of dark chocolate make it easy to find a product you find appealing. The notion that you can use dark chocolate for weight reduction is equally appealing. A February 2014 paper in Nutrition offers some evidence for this idea.

These researchers found a relationship between chocolate consumption and body fat in adolescents. Kids eating more chocolate showed less obesity.

The writers of a March 2012 article in the Archives of Internal Medicine showed similar results in adults. They found a relationship between the frequency of chocolate consumption and body mass index. Women and men who ate more chocolate had a lower body mass index.

These results persisted when the authors controlled for physical activity, caloric intake and other possible confounds.

Changes in appetite seem to mediate the weight-regulating effect of dark chocolate, according to a September 2017 report in the Journal of Functional Foods. These researchers had 20 middle-aged adults consume white or dark chocolate daily for 28 days.

Following this intervention, the subjects consumed chocolate during a single meal. Results of this session indicated that the subjects felt more full after eating dark chocolate than white chocolate. However, dark chocolate also caused an unexpected increase in blood sugar levels.

Dark Chocolate and Your Health

Chocolate has other positive effects on your health. For example, a June 2013 article in PLoS One listed the many benefits of chocolate on your immune system. These benefits include increasing your defense against infection and decreasing the inflammation once infection has happened.

An April 2013 paper in Cytokine tested seven participants and showed that chocolate achieves these effects through the interleukin system. In that study, chocolate increased interleukin-1B and interleukin-10 but decreased interleukin-22.

Eating chocolate can improve your heart health as well. The authors of a March 2012 report in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition noted a potent, positive effect of chocolate and cocoa on flow-mediated dilatation a marker for heart disease. They also found that cocoa products lowered blood pressure and improved cholesterol scores.

An August 2013 paper in the European Review for Medical and Pharmacological Sciences showed that chocolate can do more than just lower cholesterol. A test of 15 overweight women indicated that a week of chocolate intake lowered cholesterol and decreased body weight.

There might also be benefits of dark chocolate for your brain. The writers of an October 2013 paper in Nutrition Reviews found evidence supporting this idea. Chocolate, for example, can improve your mood and improve your mental abilities.

A study published in the July 2016 issue of the Journal of Hypertension looked at the impact of chocolate on cognitive performance during sleep deprivation. These researchers tested 32 women and found that chocolate prevented the decline in memory typically experienced during sleep deprivation.

Dark Chocolate and Side Effects

The benefits of chocolate might come at a price. For example, some people seem to get migraine headaches after eating chocolate. Yet the authors of a December 2014 paper in Acta Biomedica took a closer look at this relationship.

They found a large variation in headache prevalence following chocolate ingestion with estimates running from 0 to 23 percent. In their final analysis, they found no convincing evidence that chocolate causes migraine headaches.

Chocolate also has a relatively high amount of nickel in it, and people allergic to nickel can experience a skin reaction. The authors of a March-April report in Pediatric Dermatology described several cases of nickel hypersensitivity. Four children experienced contact dermatitis after handling chocolate during an Easter egg hunt.

Dark chocolate can also worsen acne, according to a May 2016 report in the International Journal of Dermatology. These researchers tested 25 men and showed that their acne worsened within a few weeks of daily intake.

The biggest problem with chocolate is what comes along with it. Most chocolate products feature abundant saturated fats and sugar as well as nutrient-rich cocoa. You can avoid this problem by buying chocolate with a high cocoa content. Another option is buying chocolate featuring a sugar substitute.

Unfortunately, the authors of a December 2012 paper in the British Journal of Nutrition tested 15 subjects and showed that your body is less likely to absorb the main active substances in chocolate — flavanols — when you eat sugar-free chocolate.

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