By Gillian Mandich, MSc, PhD(c)
Endless research has found that a slab of dark chocolate can work wonders for your diet: it can curb your cravings, satisfy your sweet tooth, promote fat loss, and prevent weight gain. Cue David “Avocado” Wolfe, gourmet chocolatier, nutrition expert, and one of the world’s top authorities on this sweet treat. Wolfe enthusiastically identifies “naked chocolate” (a.k.a. raw dark chocolate — not processed candy) as his absolute favourite superfood. Come with us as we guide you through the wonderful fat-fighting and health-promoting properties of chocolate.
One of chocolate’s most beneficial properties is undoubtedly its high level of powerful antioxidants. According to Wolfe, raw chocolate “always has been and always will be” the most antioxidant-rich food in the world. Not only does chocolate help to fight free radicals and oxidative stress, but it also encourages your body to lose weight (unlike stress, which can cause a fat increase, especially around your middle). Recent research from the University of Florida has also found that people who consume more antioxidants from food may weigh less, have lower levels of body fat, and sport smaller waistlines (even if they aren’t cutting calories).
Chew on this: chocolate boosts your stamina while helping you to shed pounds because it’s chock-full of fibre. This dietary substance slows down your digestion, keeping you satisfied longer, while also providing you with a steady energy supply, and regulating your blood sugar levels. Wolfe says that “the soluble fibre in chocolate is unmatched,” but the levels of insoluble fibre are also impressive. A one-ounce serving of 70-per cent dark chocolate has nearly three grams of insoluble fibre, which promotes satiation as well as decreasing the amount of starch and sugar absorbed by the small intestine.
Next stop: magnesium central. You probably didn’t know that with every bite of your sweet indulgence you are also getting a mouthful of heart-healthy, relaxation-inducing magnesium. Chocolate has a “very unusual and interesting mineral content,” Wolfe shares, and it contains incredibly high levels of magnesium. This under-appreciated mineral is essential for over 300 different chemical reactions in your body and also plays an important role in insulin function. If the body has a magnesium deficiency, insulin operates poorly, causing weight gain, high blood glucose levels, and increased fat storage. A 2012 review examining 42 different studies and published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition also found a connection between eating dark chocolate and weight gain prevention.
Just in case that wasn’t enough good news, chocolate is also a great source of the blood-sugar stabilizing minerals chromium and vanadium, and is “extraordinarily high in zinc and copper, which are important for metabolic balance,” Wolfe explains.
The Skinny On Stress
This fabulous food is also a triple stress-fighter: it corrects imbalances, decreases levels of stress hormones like cortisol, and is jam-packed with stress-reducing iron. In addition to helping you feel happier and healthier, lowering stress is also beneficial for weight loss, as a surge in stress hormones is commonly associated with an increase in abdominal fat.
“Runner’s High” Lowers The Scale
Chocolate is “virtually the only food in the world that helps our brain produce more feel-good hormones,” Wolfe clarifies. This feel-good buzz comes from the bliss chemical anandamide, the same endorphin we release when we are in love or “when we have a runner’s high, a yoga high, or when you come out of a great workout,” Wolfe notes.
Nutritional researcher Michael Levine famously said, “Chemically speaking, chocolate really is the world’s perfect food,” and Wolfe is quick to agree, calling it “the most nutritious food on earth.” The sugary sweetness of milk and white chocolate may cause you to pack on the pounds, but the extensive attributes of dark chocolate are encouraging. You can indulge, guilt-free, when you need an afternoon pick-me-up or an after-dinner treat, knowing this treat will actually promote fat loss and good health. Wolfe claims that chocolate truly is the “greatest, most prosperous, nutritious, mood-elevating, energizing, and top weight-loss aphrodisiac food on the planet,” and based on all of the compelling evidence presented here, we’re inclined to agree!