Readers of this column know I’m a lover of good dark chocolate. I make no secret of my interest in finding out all that’s good about the stuff. Here’s the latest:
This recent meta-analysis looked at the effects of eating dark chocolate on body weight, body mass index (BMI) and waist circumference.
Why I Like This Study
• It included randomized controlled trials (RCTs) only. That means “cause-and-effect” results of an intervention. Large population studies can’t do that (no matter what the headlines imply).
• The studies in this meta-analysis all had to investigate cocoa’s or dark chocolate’s (DC) effect on body weight, body mass index (BMI) and waist circumference .
• DC had to be specifically prescribed and compared with a placebo group that did not consume cocoa or DC
• Neatness counted. The authors of this meta-analysis looked only at studies with adults. No animals.
First the bad news: Glass half empty?
There was no significant effect of dark chocolate/cocoa supplementation on BMI, weight, or waist circumference. Bummer. Some studies found a difference, some did not, but when you pool all the studies together and treat them as one huge study, which is what a meta-analysis does, no significant difference in these parameters could be found.
If you’re a glass-half-empty kind of person, this sounds bad, but it really isn’t. DC hasn’t traditionally been known to be a weight-loss aide. Then again, read on…
Saving the best for last…
In studies that lasted longer, 4 to 8 weeks, and that included at least 30 grams of dark chocolate daily:
• There was a significant reduction in BMI and body weight.
• Waist circumference was reduced but only in doses of 45-60 grams daily.
Personally, 30-60 grams of dark chocolate daily would not pose difficulty for me, especially if I knew it would help my waist circumference. It’s means budgeting in about 150-300 calories, but it’s nice to know that there might be justification for moving dark chocolate from the “once-in-a-while treat” to “healthful way to spend discretionary calories.” If it motivates you to get on the treadmill for 30 minutes daily, so you can balance out that extra ounce of DC, so much the better. Hey, #Commitmentiseverything 😉
Here are a few of my latest fave bars. They’re pricey, but good chocolate isn’t for gulping. Learning to savor our food just adds to the enjoyment.