We’ve heard it before… Chocolate is good for your heart. It can lower blood pressure, improve cholesterol levels, lower the risk for cardiovascular disease and even increase insulin sensitivity. However, most of the research says the kind of chocolate matters, emphasizing the health benefits of dark chocolate over milk chocolate.
But what about when it comes to your waistline? Can dark chocolate lower your desire for sweet or salty foods more than milk chocolate? Or help you reduce your calorie intake?
According to a recent study from Denmark, the answer is yes.
Dark Chocolate, Milk Chocolate and… Pizza
Researchers created a crossover, randomized study with 16 healthy men of normal weight. Each participant was tested on two different days. On both days, they were asked to fast for at least 12 hours, and then come to the lab in the morning.
Upon arrival, they were given 100 grams of either dark chocolate or milk chocolate, along with eight ounces of water. At that time, they were asked how well they liked the chocolate. Then, two hours after eating the chocolate, they were offered pizza with ham and cheese on it and told they could eat as much of it as they wanted. (How would you like to get chosen for this study?)
The participants were asked to describe their hunger, satiety, fullness, cravings, well being, etc., every 30 minutes for five hours, starting from when they consumed the chocolate until they left the research facilities. The second week, they repeated this procedure, but with other type of chocolate.
At the end of the study, researchers found that participants liked both types of chocolate equally. However, they felt more satisfied after eating the dark chocolate versus the milk chocolate. Additionally, participants reported less of a desire to eat something fatty or savory after eating the dark chocolate versus the milk chocolate. They also expressed less desire to eat something sweet throughout the entire day after eating the dark chocolate versus the milk chocolate.
Most importantly, the participants ate less pizza after eating the dark chocolate. In fact, they ate 17 percent fewer calories after eating the dark chocolate than when they ate the milk chocolate.
So, to quickly recap, the dark chocolate fended off sweet, savory and salty cravings longer than the milk chocolate. Participants felt more satisfied after eating the dark chocolate, and they ate less pizza.
Given this, researchers concluded, “Dark chocolate promotes satiety, lowers the desire to eat something sweet and suppresses energy intake compared with milk chocolate.”
Twist My Arm
How’s this for a recommendation? Eat more dark chocolate! Just remember that too much of a good thing is not better; it’s just more. And that goes for chocolate in any form.
Keep your chocolate to at least 70 percent cocoa and less than 10 grams of sugar per serving if possible. Also keep your intake to no more than one ounce per day. That’s the equivalent of half of an average size chocolate bar.
 Sorensen, LB and Astrup, A. Eating dark and milk chocolate: a randomized crossover study on effects of appetite and energy intake. Nutr Diabetes. 2011 Dec 5. [Epub ahead of print.]