Many people would claim that weight loss and chocolate don’t mix… But to some degree, those people would be wrong! Yes, it is possible to enjoy a bit of chocolate, and even benefit from it, while you’re pursuing a weight loss plan. But before we explain how to indulge without sabotaging your lifestyle plans, let’s first take a look at chocolate itself.
Beans of a cacao tree are harvested, fermented, dried, roasted, and then crushed. Finally they are processed into something called chocolate liqueur, which is basically chocolate in a paste form. This paste is used to create your favorite chocolates, such as candy bars that you can purchase at the store.
Clearly, it’s a long road from bean to grocery store shelves, but cacao beans do carry some health benefits. They contain flavonol and antioxidants, micronutrients that are known to benefit your heart. These nutrients can lower blood pressure and improve blood flow. It is believed by many experts that chocolate can help with symptoms of depression, prevent memory decline, and prevent damage to nerve pathways. Some studies have even linked the antioxidants in chocolate to lowered insulin resistance.
So, there are clear, potential health benefits contained within chocolate… But at the same time, that doesn’t mean you should indulge in a hearty serving of it every day.
Most chocolate candies contain very little of the actual cacao beans (in chocolate liqueur form), and are mostly comprised of ingredients like milk and sugar. So, they’re high in calories but not very “high” in health benefits. This type of chocolate is usually labeled “milk chocolate”.
By the way, “white chocolate” is not really chocolate at all. Most white chocolate that you can purchase at the store is composed of hydrogenated oils, and contains no real chocolate at all. It’s just a marketing term.
If you want to reap the health benefits of chocolate, look for dark chocolate. This will be expressed as a percentage on the wrapper, with a higher percentage containing more chocolate liqueur (and a lower proportion of ingredients like sugar).
Remember, if you are on a restricted diet, consult with our physicians or staff before you partake in chocolate or any other sweet treats.
Let’s not forget that even “healthy” foods still contain calories. That goes for dark chocolate, too. Eating a one-ounce square is an acceptable serving, but if you eat an entire 400-calorie bar then you’re still consuming 400 additional calories. In that sense, weight loss and chocolate definitely are not compatible.
So, as with anything else, look for the right type of chocolate and keep your portions sensible, and you can enjoy a little treat (and the health benefits) while pursuing a weight loss plan. If you have any more questions about nutrition or your weight loss program in general, give us a call. We’ll be happy to offer the information and support that you need.