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How chocolate might be a diet food

Kathleen Blanchard's picture
Chocolate just might boost metabolism for weight loss, say researchers.

Chocolate just might be food for weight loss. At least that’s the conclusion of an observational study that found regular chocolate consumers tend to be thinner than their non-chocolate eating counterparts, which may indeed make it a diet food.

In the study, published in the Archives of Internal Medicine, even people who had slightly higher calorie diets, but ate chocolate, were leaner than people who rarely consumed the bittersweet treat.

Researchers for this study looked at just over1000 healthy adults, finding those who eat chocolate five times a week at a 1 point lower body mass index than people who reported eating at less frequently, despite the fact that they take in more calories in general and reported eating more saturated fat.

How could chocolate aid weight loss?

The question everyone has on their mind is how could chocolate aid weight loss?

The researchers aren’t sure but they think there might be something about chocolate that boosts metabolism to offset weight gain that would normally happen from taking in more calories. Studies show chocolate lowers insulin levels, so it might contribute to an overall boost for losing weight.

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Lead author Beatrice Golomb, associate professor of medicine at the University of California-San Diego said in a press release, "Findings show the composition of calories, not just the number of them, matters for determining ultimate weight."

Golomb explains that 1 point lower BMI equates to 5 fewer pounds for someone 5 feet tall and 7 pounds for someone 5’10” tall, which “is not insignificant."

But before you go crazy for chocolate – if you aren’t already – step back and consider that the study was just an observation, rather than the ‘gold standard’ controlled type of trial that compares people given chocolate to a group given none.

On the other hand, consider multiple studies that suggest chocolate benefits the heart, boosts levels of HDL, or ‘good’ cholesterol, lifts depression, lowers stroke risk, fights damage from liver cirrhosis and more.

Whether or not chocolate can be considered diet food remains to be seen. Evidence is mounting that there are health benefits to be gained by putting aside the baked goods and choosing dark chocolate, combined with an otherwise balanced and nutritious diet.

Arch Intern Med. 2012;172(6):519-521. doi:10.1001/archinternmed.2011.2100

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