Chocolate and weight loss


“I heard through the grapevine that you encourage people to eat chocolate when losing weight. Chocolate is primarily fat, isn’t it? How can I eat chocolate and lose weight at the same time?” — Eva T.

It is no secret that fruits, vegetables, and grains convey health benefits — we’ve been told that for years. But what most people aren’t aware of is that there are chocolates that can prove beneficial for both improved health and weight loss.

Before I share with you how you can have your chocolate and eat it too, you must understand that in no way am I giving you a license to consume as much chocolate as you’d like. The fact is this: Most chocolate is composed primarily of fat and too much of this plant food can easily lead to an excess in daily calories. When this is the case, you may hinder your weight loss and health by consuming excess fat.

Fat facts

It’s true that among the mood-enhancing and cancer-fighting chemicals found in chocolate, it also contains other ingredients, such as saturated fats, that can outweigh its health benefits. The fat in chocolate, from cocoa butter, is comprised of equal amounts of oleic acid (a heart-healthy, monounsaturated fat also found in olive oil), as well as stearic and palmitic acids. Unfortunately, it’s the stearic and palmitic acids that are forms of saturated fat. Fortunately, however, research indicates that stearic acid appears to have a neutral effect on cholesterol, neither raising nor lowering LDL-cholesterol levels.

When it comes to the negative effects of chocolate, it is palmitic acid that increases LDL-cholesterol and the risk for heart disease. The great news is that palmitic acid only comprises one-third of the fat calories in chocolate.

No guilt

The majority of chocolate consumed in North America is filled with everything from caramel to creamy, artificially flavored chemicals. By no means am I saying to consume such chocolate.

For you to have your chocolate, eat it, too, and still achieve your best body —  choose dark chocolate with a cocoa content of at least 70 percent. However, when the chocolate bar is organic, the cocoa content can be as low as 50 percent.

Also, it is to your benefit to consume chocolate as a snack and not a meal for weight loss and improved health. It is also a good idea to keep your portion size between 80 to 200 calories of chocolate for women, and 100 to 300 for men.

The darker the chocolate, the sweeter the experience

When choosing chocolate, the darker the chocolate, the more benefits it provides. Aside from a smaller amount satisfying your pleasures, current research and nutrition science have confirmed that dark chocolate retains the highest level of antioxidants, called flavonoids (flavonoids are a subgroup of a large class called polyphenols).

It’s these antioxidants (flavonoids) that provide the pungent taste of chocolate before it’s processed. Unfortunately, the more chocolate is processed (such as fermentation, alkalizing, and roasting), the more flavonoids are lost. So to maximize the experience, as I mentioned earlier, choose dark chocolate that is high in cocoa content.


Robert Ferguson is a nutritionist, researcher, best-selling author, speaker, host, NAACP nominee, creator of the Diet Free Life methodology, and Chief Nutrition Officer at iCoura Health, Inc., who serves on the Presidential Task Force on Obesity for the National Medical Association. E-mail him at, or visit his Web site at





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