I’m really excited to tell you about today’s medical study, because I love chocolate so much and I particularly love milk chocolate.
Most medical studies seem to focus on the healthy properties of dark chocolate (for good reason, as dark chocolate is a rich source of antioxidants) but I can’t seem to make myself fall in love with dark chocolate.
But milk chocolate? Ummm yeah, can’t get enough.
So this interesting medical study caught my eye. Published in the FASEB Journal, June 2021, researchers found that eating milk chocolate daily reduced the amount of calories that study subjects ate, decreased their hunger and sugar cravings, and actually helped boost their metabolism.
Here is the clincher, thought: it mattered when they ate it.
Researchers had study participants eat a chocolate an entire milk chocolate bar (100g, or about 3/4 of a cup, or 3.5 oz) within one hour of waking, within one hour of bedtime, or no chocolate at all.
They were instructed to eat freely the rest of the day as they normally would. After two weeks of daily chocolate eating (or not eating) here is what they found:
Eating a chocolate bar in the morning:
- participants naturally decreased calorie intake by an average of about 300 kcal/day
- participants had decreased hunger and decreased desire for sweets
- participants had a reduced waist circumference of about 2% in just 2 weeks
- participants had 26% higher oxidation of fat (i.e. boosted fat burning)
- participants had slightly lowered fasting glucose levels
These results suggest that eating chocolate in the morning helps boost metabolism by decreasing calorie intake, oxidizing fat, and lowering fasting glucose levels.
So if your goal is to lose weight and burn fat, you may consider eating your chocolate treat in the mornings.
Eating a chocolate bar in the evening:
- participants naturally decreased calorie intake by an average of about 100 kcal/day
- participants had decreased hunger and decreased desire for sweets
- participants had 35% higher carbohydrate oxidation (i.e. boosted carb burning)
- participants naturally increased their daily activity level by 7%
- participants had more regular sleep patterns
These results suggest that eating chocolate in the evening helps regulate the body’s natural biorhythms, boosting activity level during the day and normalizing sleep at night, as well as burning carbs. So if your goal is to improve your circadian rhythm, you may consider timing any chocolate treats you are going to eat in the evening.
It’s also good to note that no matter what time the participants ate chocolate, eating an entire chocolate bar every single day for 2 weeks straight did not make either group gain any weight verse controls who did not eat chocolate.
Here’s my question though… what about if I eat chocolate morning and night? I absolutely volunteer to be a test subject in that clearly much needed medical study, ha!
Years ago I wrote to you about a medical article, published in the British Medical Journal in May 2011, showing that folks who consume chocolate often… every single day or even multiple times a day… have an almost 40% reduced risk of heart attack and an almost 30% reduced risk of stroke.
About a third less risk of cardiovascular events and stroke combined attributed to chocolate intake. In fact, the patients who consumed the most chocolate had the greatest cardiac and neurologic protection.
This was a huge, meta analysis looking at over 4,500 different published articles in the medical literature and a whopping 114,000 patients. This large study population makes these results very impressive and very reliable.
The effects are suggested to be attributed to high polyphenols in chocolate, which increase the bioavailability of nitric oxide… this in turn improves endothelial function, reduces platelet aggregation, and over all has a positive effect on blood pressure, blood lipids, and insulin resistance.
The study included any and all forms of chocolate, whether dark, milk or white chocolate.
Another study published 8 years later backed that up, showing the positive effects of eating chocolate on health in a different way â€” in protecting mood and guarding against mood disorders.
Published on July 29, 2019 in Depression and Anxiety, researchers found that dark chocolate consumption significantly reduced a patients chance of feeling depressive symptoms for a 24 hour period of time.
Looking at over 13,000 patients, researchers found that eating any amount of dark chocolate decreased depressive symptoms by 70% over patients who did not consume chocolate in the previous 24 hours.
OMG why is this not front page news?!?! Uh… hello! If I could give you a Rx drug that was 70% effective in reducing depressive symptoms by 70% the very next day, there are a lot of folks who would want to take it.
Now imagine if this miracle drug tasted just like chocolate.
Now imagine it wasn’t a drug at all and it was just simply chocolate itself.
Wish come true, that’s what they found.
To explain this mood lifting effect, researchers point out that chocolate contains several psychoactive ingredients, including anandamide analogs (which work similar to cannabinoids) as well as phenylethylamine, a mood regulating neuromodulator.
Getting a mood lifting high from chocolate? Heck yes. Make mine a double.
Chocolate also contains flavonoids, which decreases inflammation. As I’ve already blogged for you right here, we know that inflammation depresses mood. And I’d like to add to these findings the fact that you are also releasing endorphins from the happiness of eating chocolate (or… um… at least I am!)
Now, didn’t that just brighten your day?
Now all I need is for someone to release chocolate directly in an IV infusion and I am all set to go!!!! I’ve always been a big fan of eating what brings you joy (as I blog about here) but this just makes me all the happier as I reach for my holiday chocolate.
So eat some chocolate today and enjoy a few added health benefits… doctor’s orders!
Want some more guidance on navigating holiday foods and treats?
Click the link below to find out my top 5 foods that I reach for when I am at a party or meeting or event:
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