There is nothing wrong with a little chocolate in our lives, and actually there are health benefits associated with chocolate. Studies have shown that chocolate has some heart healthy properties due to its flavanoids (antioxidants), which help protect the body from free radicals and bad “LDL” cholesterol that damages our arteries. As always, when fitting chocolate into your food intake, moderation is the key.
There is an interesting study out there though that might make you think twice if you are craving chocolate over the next few weeks (or anytime for that matter!) A recent study actually showed that taking a brisk walk can cut down on the urge to eat chocolate and may help curb cravings. The study involved taking 25 people who were daily chocolate consumers. The researchers deprived them of their favorite daily chocolate, exposed them to stress and then measured their cravings based on whether they took a 15 minute brisk walk or not. The group that exercised had a significant reduction in chocolate cravings when compared to those that had been inactive.
So now you have some actual proof! Next time you feel like some chocolate or any sweet in fact, get out the door and take a quick walk. By the time you are back, your craving might be gone! Just as a side note, a trick I often use as well is to pop a piece of sugar free bubble gum in my mouth if I am craving something sweet… yes, I do eat sweets (yum)! But sometimes at night …one sweet leads to another. So chomping on some bubble gum and walking out of the kitchen usually does the trick and kills the craving.
Related: 5 Ways to Stop Emotional Eating
Lastly, if you do indulge in a little chocolate, do keep in mind that not all chocolate is created equal. Dark chocolate is clearly the healthiest choice. It contains much greater amounts of cocoa, and therefore more flavanoids, than other forms of chocolate. It is also a part of the MUFA’s (monounsaturated fatty acids) which are the plant-based fats found in some of your many of your favorite foods: avocados, nuts and seeds, oils, olives, and dark chocolate! Studies show that these good-for-you fats enhance heart health and protect against chronic disease. And now the latest research shows that these nutrient dense superstars may even target fat where it’s hardest to lose—in your belly!
Also, always make sure you read the labels because a lot of chocolates on the market today are highly processed, full of added sugars, and may contain very little real cocoa. Make smart choices so you can really enjoy your pleasures guilt-free! (Check out the Yes You Can Chocolate Cupcakes in my new cookbook, CHOOSE THIS!)