Chocolate is a rich source of bioactive compounds, particularly a group of molecules called flavonoids, plant compounds associated with several positive health impacts. But teasing out the possible effects of such compounds in your diet, and how they may interact with various diet interventions, is rarely studied. It could be that simply consuming chocolate in combination with dietary interventions has no effect, or it could make such diets even more effective in the right dose.
To test the idea, the researchers divided volunteers aged 19–67 into three groups. One group followed a strict low-carbohydrate diet, another group followed the low-carbohydrate diet and also consumed 42 g of dark (81%) chocolate per day, and a control group followed their status quo diet. Besides tracking their body weight and measuring blood chemistry before, during, and after the intervention, subjects filled out questionnaires to assess sleep quality and subjective well-being, a key predictor of dietary compliance.
The researchers found that the low-carb group lost weight compared to the control. But surprisingly, the low-carb plus chocolate group lost 10% more weight. In addition, the weight loss persisted, compared to the low-carb group, which saw a return of the weight after three weeks. The chocolate group also reported better sleep and well-being, and their blood cholesterol levels were significantly reduced.
"To our surprise, the effect of chocolate is real," said lead author Johannes Bohannon, research director of the nonprofit Institute of Diet and Health. "It is not enough to just consume chocolate, but in combination with exercise and reduction in carbohydrates, our data indicate that chocolate can be a weight loss accelerator."
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