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New book suggests dark chocolate helps weight loss


Montgomery Advertiser (AL)

02-14-14

Feb. 14--A NEW BOOK -- released just in time for one of the biggest chocolate-consuming holidays of the year -- that promises weight loss if people follow five simple rules to eating dark chocolate has Diane Holtam willing to test the theory.

Dark chocolate helps balance "sweets" cravings for Holtam, a Montgomery resident, because she believes it is more satisfying than any other kind. She laughs that she is willing to take this one step further after learning about a book, "Eat Chocolate, Lose Weight," (Rodale, 288 pages) in which author and neuroscientist Will Clower suggests that eating chocolate can help someone eat less all day.

"And the amount that (people are) hungry for, the amount of between meal snacks that they have, will drop by about a half," Clower said. "What we see in all these people is that the amount that they're hungry for at the plate will drop by a half to a third."

The title of the book itself, though, is misleading to Molly Killman, registered dietitian and director of the nutrition and physical activity division with the Alabama Department of Public Health.

"They are insinuating that eating chocolate equals weight loss," she said. "That's a concern I have about the book. Can a moderate amount of chocolate be incorporated into a healthy diet? Yes. But the chocolate alone is not going to make you lose weight. Is chocolate in your diet, OK? In moderation, yes."

There are five specific rules in Clower's book that he says must be followed to make the weight loss happen:

? The darker the chocolate, the better: All of the good in chocolate comes from one place -- cocoa (and cocoa that is 70 percent or higher is ideal).

? Eat the chocolate 20 minutes before and five minutes after lunch and dinner: With the little piece at the end of the meal, it stabilizes the sugar onset into your bloodstream so you have more of the blood sugar more often throughout the afternoon, so you're just not hungry, Clower explains.

? Make sure each portion is no larger than the end joint of your thumb.

? Savor the chocolate, not chew it, which might take some getting used to.

? Consistency is key: Do this every day.

Killman said studies in recent years indicate dark chocolate does contain higher amounts of antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties.

"So you'll hear the dark chocolate is the better choice over milk chocolate," or even white chocolate. Clower's method is based on how it worked for some of the people who followed the rules while eating healthy, all-natural foods at mealtime.

There are also other benefits in addition to weight loss if you eat dark chocolate, Clower said.

"If they brain scan people and have them eat chocolate while they're doing it, their pleasure centers are like a Christmas tree -- everybody's happy in there," Clower said.

Kristen Cunningham has been taught over the years that making good nutritional and exercise choices will prove beneficial in the years ahead. While she eats dark chocolate occasionally, it is not a staple in her house.

"I don't know if it makes that much of a difference in anything," the Montgomery resident said. "I know it's better to have a couple of pieces of dark chocolate over that big piece of chocolate cake or half of the brownies. I don't do well with weight loss if I have that in my house.

"It is so easy to fall off the horse. My sons are 3 and 6 years old and I want them to have a good role model. It's better to have a couple of pieces, than it being my go-to snack."

Holtam said her family doesn't eat chocolate every day, but any time she brings home dark chocolate, the family will find it.

"We're all dark chocolate lovers around here," she said. "I don't eat it every day, but that (book) is interesting. As a breast cancer survivor, it might be beneficial for me to try."

Killman agrees with the thumb-sized portion of Clower's rules, but said people need to maintain a healthy balance in exercise and nutrition.

"The other recommendations are probably not reliable and aren't going to contribute to weight loss," she said. "We always go back to eating a healthy balanced diet, but I wouldn't count on chocolate being the catalyst for weight loss."

CBS News contributed to this article.

Additional Facts

CHOCOLATE: GOOD FOR BODY AND MIND

The most recent evidence of chocolate being good for your heart comes from an August study in the journal Neurology. Researchers found that chocolate may help older people keep their brains healthy and their thinking sharp. Study participants who drank two cups of cocoa daily for 30 days showed an 8.3 percent increase in blood flow to the brain, and they improved their scores on memory and thinking tests.

Source: live science.com

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Copyright Montgomery Advertiser (AL) 2014

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