For many people considering a weight loss plan, or actively pursuing one, their biggest question revolves around whether they can still eat their favorite foods. And, for a lot of people, that favorite food is chocolate. Whether you’re trying to lose weight or just want to eat a healthier diet, you might wonder, “Is chocolate really all that bad? Do I have to give it up completely?”
Chocolate is derived from beans of the cacoa tree. After these beans are harvested, they are fermented, dried, roasted, and crushed. They might be ground into a paste called chocolate liquor, which is used to make your favorite candy bar.
Those cacoa beans do carry some health benefits, such as antioxidants and flavonol. These micronutrients are known to benefit your heart, lower blood pressure, and improve blood flow to the brain and heart. Some studies have hinted that chocolate may help to lower insulin resistance, a risk factor for diabetes. On top of all that, chocolate might even boost your brain health, prevent memory decline, and reduce damage to the nerve pathways seen in Alzheimer’s disease.
Not to mention, a lot of people simply report that a few bites of chocolate boosts their mood!
But of course, there’s a catch. Some types of chocolate contain very little chocolate liquor, which is where the health benefits are derived. Milk chocolate contains a low concentration of actual cacoa beans, and a much higher concentration of ingredients like milk and sugar. White chocolate is actually not chocolate at all, and many of the popular white chocolate bars contain partially hydrogenated oils rather than any actual cocoa butter.
If you want to reap any benefits from chocolate, opt for dark varieties. The darker a bar of chocolate (expressed as a percentage on the wrapper), the more cacoa it actually contains. And of course, remember that calories are still calories. If you eat a 500-calorie dark chocolate bar every day, your weight loss plan is unlikely to be very successful. Stick to a one-ounce serving as a small dessert or mid-day snack, and you can reap the health benefits of chocolate without jeopardizing your weight loss strategy.
For more information on balancing your diet, or to learn which foods are appropriate for your weight loss plan, call us to schedule an appointment. We specialize in helping patients identify the weight loss strategies that will work for them, while providing the health benefits that they need.