There is something that feels sort of scandalous and National Enquirer about reporting that eating chocolate has been linked to weight loss, but there’s research there that – if it doesn’t exactly prove it – at least provides some food for thought and opens up some interesting discussions.
The study in question was conducted by the University of California in San Diego, and what the scientists there found is that people who admit to eating chocolate an average of five times a week have a lower Body Mass Index (BMI) than those who say they eat chocolate less frequently. BMI is the gold standard by which physicians determine whether a person is at a healthy weight, and the fact that the chocolate lovers consistently showed lower weight and lower BMI is what got diet experts buzzing. Although some have posited that the chocolate is boosting people’s metabolism, thus offsetting the extra calories that eating the chocolate represents, others are not so sure.
Some nutritionists have dismissed the study out of hand, saying that it just doesn’t add up when it comes to calories and fat. These experts point to the lifestyle that eating chocolate accompanies, saying that if you are well-educated about nutrition and have a healthy and relaxed attitude about food that generally goes along with a lower BMI. Though it is understandable for nutritionists to be so dismissive of a study that seems to encourage counter-productive eating, others point to possible scientific reasons why chocolate might be helping people to keep their weight down. One physician and diet expert out of Yale points out that dark chocolate’s bitterness may act as an appetite suppressant, and its high levels of fat may slow overall digestion, helping people to feel full longer and thus avoid snacking between meals. Others point out that chocolate contains caffeine, a known appetite suppressant and metabolism booster.
One thing that all of the experts agree on is that if you are going to eat chocolate, dark chocolate is the healthiest because it contains less fat and sugar and more of the ingredients that have proven to be most healthful. They also agree that when it comes to chocolate a little goes a long way – if you can eat a small portion and satisfy your cravings you are much more likely to get all of the health benefits that chocolate has to offer while minimizing the unhealthy aspects that chocolate is criticized for.