Healthy Chocolate is no longer an oxymoron folks! Several studies over the last few years have revealed that chocolate has several health benefits such as decreasing the risk of cardiovascular disease, fighting depression, improves insulin sensitivity and other diabetic symptoms, relieves inflammation, increases energy, improves breathing and even decreases your appetite.
Even with all of those benefits many of us steer clear of chocolate when we’re on a diet! We have been programmed to think of chocolate as a guilty indulgence. When I talk to my clients about the weight control benefits of chocolate, the first thing I often hear is, “Are you crazy? You CAN’T lose weight with chocolate!”
Before I did all my research on chocolate I might have agreed with them. With the right type of chocolate – unprocessed, dark cocoa – anyone can definitely can lose weight, keep it off and even improve other areas of their health.
Here are the Top 10 Reasons You Should Eat Chocolate:
1. Dark Chocolate is loaded with key neurotransmitters like tryptophan, serotonin and dopamine. Often, eating is an emotional experience associated with depression or boredom. Unfortunately the more you eat, the more depressed you become. These nutrient chemicals in cocoa can lower the risk of depression, as well as suppress one’s appetite and block the pathway that leads to food cravings. Additionally, phenylethylamine (PEA) improves mood, which in turn decreases food cravings. Food addiction is like drug addiction; consequently, cocoa can minimize food cravings and addictions by delivering the right chemicals.
2. Fiber in cocoa is linked to decreased weight. Fiber helps block some fat absorption as well as a feeling of fullness.
3. Cocoa’s flavonoid content can relieve inflammation. Chronic inflammation is associated with low leptin levels, which increases appetite. In addition, cortisol levels increase with elevated inflammatory chemicals that start to break down muscles, deposit fat in cells and fuel the appetite.
4. Cocoa also contains anandamide, often called the “bliss chemical,” because of its involvement in the generation of motivation and pleasure. Like PEA, it greatly influences mood.
5. Cocoa’s various vitamins and minerals provide essential nutrients that boost energy levels and aid in recovery from exercise.
6. Research shows that dark chocolate and cocoa-based foods help stabilize blood sugar levels. They also increase insulin sensitivity and proper glucose metabolism, meaning if the sugar in your blood is being utilized properly, it doesn’t convert into fat.
7. Numerous studies show that dark chocolate can improve heart health. A recent Dutch study found that elderly men who regularly consumed chocolate had less cardiovascular-related and overall deaths than their non-chocolate counterparts.
8. Though it may seem a contradiction, consumption of dark chocolate can decrease your desire to eat more sweets, which in turn lowers your overall appetite. An added benefit is that energy and blood sugar levels are improved with less snacking and fewer sweets.
9. Some researchers suggest that bacteria in your stomach may play a role in obesity. For centuries, cocoa has been used as an antibacterial agent.
10. Chocolate is a histamine blocker, helping decrease stomach acid and possibly improving digestion.
Not All Chocolate is Healthy
It’s important to note that, when it comes to conferring weight loss benefits, dark chocolate reigns supreme. To benefit from antioxidant properties and cocoa’s polyphenols, stick with products that are 60 percent cocoa and avoid alkalinization or Dutch process chocolate.
Since unprocessed dark chocolate is not as sweet as the sugar loaded milk chocolate most Americans are use to I like adding dark chocolate & cacao nibs to my smoothies, dipping my fruit in chocolate, eating chocolate & nut bars, chocolate chip cookies with cacao nibs, even chocolate zucchini cakes are DELICIOUS & NUTRITIOUS , etc.
I’ve added tons of delicious chocolate recipes to my new 21 Day Flat Belly Detox Challenge. Check it out here