Is it Okay to Eat Chocolate Every Day?
Raise your hand if you’re a chocoholic? There is no guilt in indulging in luscious, molten, dark chocolate-filled moments. In fact, scientists suggest you should eat more of it! Chronic consumption of flavonoids found in dark chocolate may lower your risk of obesity, heart disease, and diabetes. In order to find the healthiest chocolate, you’ll need to understand the nitty gritty details of this treasured treat.
Be picky about your chocolate!
The most popular chocolate treats consumed in the United States contain sugar, butter, and less flavonoid-rich cocoa.
What is the Healthiest Chocolate?
Every chocolate bar or candy is made with its own recipe, which can comprise of varying amounts of sugar, cocoa butter (fat from cocoa beans), cocoa solids (dark, bitter, flavanol-rich part of cocoa beans), and milk (in the case of milk chocolate). Lower quality chocolate can also contain vegetable oils, butter fat, artificial colors, or flavors. Of the $25 billion chocolate sold in the United States, most people (72%) bought lower quality chocolate candies. The addition of these undesirable and unhealthy ingredients, has got the noses of chocolate connoisseurs raised in disgust. If you’d like to lose weight eating chocolate, it’s important to be picky.
What is the Best Chocolate?
The best chocolate has rich, dark, mocha color, and shiny, smooth, velvety texture, according to chocolate aficionados. To create that uniform texture, chocolate must be tempered perfectly, so the fatty acids in the cocoa butter do not crystalize to create a dull or grainy texture. As for nutrition experts, they would say the best chocolate is pure cocoa, or dark chocolate.
Beware of Sugar in Chocolate Treats
There is 23% more sugar in confectionery chocolate today than 15 years ago. That means there is 10 grams more sugar in a 100-gram serving of your favorite chocolate treat. According to the World Health Organization, 25 grams of sugar is all an adult should eat in a day.
How is Milk Chocolate Different from Dark Chocolate?
The biggest difference between milk chocolate and dark chocolate besides the milk, is how much cocoa solids they contain. Dark chocolate typically contains 50 to 90% cocoa solids, while milk chocolate has as little as 10%. Cocoa solids are the healthiest part! If you want to sink your teeth into the healthiest chocolate, go for cocoa powder, or dark chocolate which contains at least 85% cocoa.
5 Reasons to Eat Chocolate Everyday
1. Eat Chocolate Every Day and Lose Weight
“If weight loss is your goal, fill up on veggies, fruits, whole grains, potatoes, and beans,” explains Registered Dietician, Kimberly Gomer, Director of Nutrition at the Pritikin Center in Miami, Florida. “And, don’t forget cocoa…” she adds. Dark chocolate can be a part of a healthy eating plan that promotes weight loss, like the Pritikin Eating Plan. The Pritikin Eating Plan includes many chocolatey delights, such as the delicious Chocolate Brownie Oatmeal. Yes, fellow chocolate lovers, it’s possible to lose weight and eat chocolate every day!
Will eating chocolate every day cause weight loss? Yes, eating chocolate can be part of a healthy lifestyle that promotes weight loss! However, evidence is very slim that a chocolate-focused diet would cause weight loss. One study offered a glimmer that it could be possible to lose weight eating chocolate: eating 2 grams of flavonoid-rich dark chocolate every day reduced the waist circumference of 84 adults in a California-based study. But the reality is weight loss can be confusing and frustrating. “At the end of the day, our culture doesn’t support healthy eating,” says Kimberly Gomer, MS, RD, LDN, the Director of Nutrition at Pritikin. “Trying to lose weight on your own can feel like you’re chasing your tail.” If you’re struggling to lose weight, consider visiting the best weight-loss center around.
2. Chocolate Makes You Happy
Nibbling on a piece of sweet, deep brown chocolate is such a pleasurable experience. Chocolate has a fascinating impact on your brain. It is an excellent source of tryptophan, the amino acid needed to create serotonin. Eating chocolate triggers the release of serotonin and endorphins – brain chemicals that regulate your mood. That’s why eating chocolate makes you feel good!
3. Chocolate is Good for Your Heart
Nutrition experts are in love with dark chocolate, and claim it as the healthiest chocolate. Dark chocolate contains 2 to 3 times more flavanol-rich cocoa solids than milk chocolate. Flavanols are plant chemicals that may help protect the heart. How does this indulgent and tantalizing sweet food help? Flavanols support the production of nitric oxide which helps the inside of blood vessels relax, this improves blood flow and ultimately lowers blood pressure. In fact, eating more chocolate was linked with a lower risk of heart disease, discovered researchers who surveyed over 20,000 men and women in England about their chocolate consumption.
How Much Chocolate Should You Eat in a Day?
Data from the Danish Diet, Cancer and Health Study, published in the journal Heart, showed a reduced risk of atrial fibrillation if you eat chocolate. But, how much chocolate should you eat? Researchers suggest at least one serving a week, if you’re a female (age 50-64), or 2 to 6 servings per week if you’re a male. Eating these respective number of servings of chocolate per week was found to reduce the risk of atrial fibrillation by 21% in females and 23% in males. This is motivation to eat more chocolate, as one in four adults is estimated to experience an atrial fibrillation (a heart rhythm irregularity) in their lifetime. Break off a chunk of that dark chocolate and chomp away! Your heart will literally love every bite of it.
4. Chocolate Increases your Brain Power
Dark chocolate starts a party in your brain – and, it’s a party that you’ll remember. Dark chocolate beneficially effects memory and attention. Researchers from Mexico investigated the brain’s oscillations (ability to make an electrical output that helps the brain send messages needed for cognition, memory, perception, and behavior) when people ate dark chocolate. Like the fireworks on the fourth of July, when they ate chocolate the laboratory screens lit up, showing more blood flow and neuron activity in the brain. It appears that chocolate can rev up some aspects of brain power.
5. Type 2 Diabetics Should Eat Chocolate
Yes, dark chocolate is a healthy snack for diabetics! In fact, diabetics can eat chocolate all day long, says the International Journal of Preventative Medicine. In the study, type 2 diabetics who ate a small piece of dark chocolate 5 times a day (30 g in total) caused a reduction in inflammatory markers in their blood. Careful, as this suggests eating small amounts of dark chocolate, not large-scale consumption of confectionary chocolate candy bars.
As for pre-diabetics, studies show the flavanols in dark chocolate may increase insulin sensitivity. What a delicious win! Your next chocolatey bite may help reduce the risk of diabetes.
How to Lose Weight Eating Chocolate
“Cocoa is the healthiest way to get the anti-oxidants and fiber in chocolate – without the butter fat, saturated fat, and cholesterol,” notes Registered Dietician, Kimberly Gomer, Director of Nutrition at the Pritikin Longevity Center and Spa. “We offer a hot chocolate that is amazing – and chocolate pudding,” continued Gomer.
She’s not the only one at Pritikin who is crazy about chocolate being part of a healthy diet. Pritikin’s Executive Chef, Vincenzo Della Polla is passionate about creating dishes so delicious you’re still dreaming about them days later, such as these Chocolate Covered Strawberries.
Chocolate Covered Strawberries
- 4 oz of 100% cocoa bar
- 2 tbsp of pure maple syrup
- 1 tsp of vanilla extract
- Fresh strawberries, washed and patted dry.
- Combine everything but the strawberries in a cold stainless-steel bowl.
- In a heavy-bottom pot, pour in a few inches of water. Put the stainless-steel bowl on the pot so it’s sort of stacked on top.
- Start to heat the water. (The steam from the pot will gently melt the chocolate.)
- Stir the chocolate occasionally.
- Once melted, dip the strawberries about 2/3 of the way up in the chocolate. Let any excess chocolate drip off the strawberries.
- Place them on a sheet of parchment paper to cool. Option: put the chocolate dipped strawberries in the fridge for about 30 minutes to help the chocolate set.
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- Chocolate intake and risk of clinically apparent atrial fibrillation: the Danish Diet, Cancer and Health Study. Heart 2017; 103: 1163-1167.
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- Daily consumption of chocolate rich in flavonoids decreases cellular genotoxicity and improves biochemical parameters of lipid and glucose metabolism. Molecules 2018 Sep; 23(9): 2220.