The benefits of dark chocolate

December 18, 2008 3:01:19 PM PST
It's a story right out of Santa's Workshop. If your sweet tooth is getting a workout this season, you might choose better if you go for a dark chocolate. There are many good reasons that are well-known, but now, Denmark Scientists have come up with a brand new finding.

One benefit of dark chocolate over milk chocolate or white chocolate is that it is full of protective compounds call flavonoids. So when we saw a new study that shows dark chocolate might help you eat less, we paid attention and read the fine print. Here's what you need to know.

Dark chocolate is certainly a choice gift this holiday season. And now, adding to its reputation is a study done by University of Copenhagen scientists. They found that dark chocolate could satisfy your appetite better than milk chocolate. And they also found that it might help keep you away from craving those fatty foods like pizza.

"The subjects in the group that had the dark chocolate felt more satisfied and less hungry than the people that were fed the regular milk chocolate," said Lisa Harwood, a nutritionist at the Cleveland Clinic.

They are great findings, but the small study needs to be replicated with a larger group before the proof is sold.

So here's how the study went. Sixteen men fasted for 12 hours. The researchers gave them 3.5 ounces of dark chocolate to eat. That's about the equivalent of two and a half small chocolate bars. Two and a half to three hours later, the men got pizza, as much as they wanted.

Then, at a different time, the same method was followed, but the men got milk chocolate. The results?

"The subjects that had the dark chocolate, not just the milk chocolate, ate 15 percent less of the pizza," Harwood said. "So that indicates they were craving less salty, greasy fatty food than people who ate the milk chocolate."

So if you're taking a bit of chocolate between meals, you're better off choosing dark. But nutritionists say remember the calories and adjust.

Whatever happened to no eating between meals? Well, many nutritonists now say that small meals throughout the day are better. But few are recommending chocolate as a between meal snack. Yet, the chocoholics we know say that they still snack on chocolate. So for them, we say keep it to small, dark bits and watch the calories.


STORY BY: Medical reporter Dr. Jay Adlersberg


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