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Diabetics can benefit from chocolate for weight loss and health, says expert

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In the diet world, the number of foods that you can eat without guilt has been shrinking faster than Kim Kardashian's waistline. Now a nurse is sweetening the weight loss field by teaching classes that instruct those with diabetes how to dish up the benefits of chocolate, reported the Union Bulletin on Feb. 15.

A nurse practitioner at Walla Walla Clinic, Emily Castillo specializes in nutrition for those with diabetes. And she recognizes that although the temptations of chocolate can seem overwhelming, by understanding how, why and when to incorporate it in their diet, her patients can win at weight loss and health.

In the chocolate-focused class that she recently taught, Emily revealed the following benefits of eating the right kind of chocolate:

  • Dark chocolate, categorized as candy in which 70 to 99 percent of the candy’s weight comes from ingredients in the cocoa bean, has a low sugar content that doesn't result in blood sugar spikes. An example: Endangered Species , Dark Chocolate 88 percent (click for details).
  • It contains healthy saturated fats and antioxidants, which can reduce blood pressure and cholesterol while lowering your risk of heart disease and cancer.
  • Dark chocolate helps alleviate depression because it contains natural opiates that raise the serotonin levels in the brain.
  • Darker chocolate contains more fiber, which cancels carbohydrates gram for gram. Emily notes that too many carbohydrates are a diabetic’s enemy, she said.

Even if you're not diabetic, you can lose weight and enhance your health with chocolate, says Will Clower, PhD, neurophysiologist, neuroscientist, and nutritionist in his new book, "Eat Chocolate, Lose Weight: New Science Proves You Should Eat Chocolate Every Day" (click for details).

"There's no better food to connect the dots between mind and body than the deliciously emotional, palpably physical response we all have to eating pure chocolate," he asserts.

We first became familiar with Clower's wisdom when we read his book "The Fat Fallacy: The French Diet Secrets to Permanent Weight Loss" (click for more information). In it, he explained how France maintains an impressively low rate of obesity (eight percent) when compared to the United States' shockingly high rate (about 50 percent). In that book, as well as in his complementary "The French Don't Diet Plan: 10 Simple Steps to Stay Thin for Life," Clower re-introduced us to the joy of eating real food.

Now he hopes to enlighten the world about how to use the latest research on using chocolate for weight loss:

  • A study determined that people who ate 40 grams (about an ounce) of chocolate every day for two weeks had reductions in cortisol.
  • Researchers found that people who ate cocoa daily had 10 percent lower levels of anxiety and considered themselves 10 percent calmer than they had been at the start of a 30-day study.
  • Allowing yourself small, regular doses of chocolate helps you regulate stress and lose weight.

"The cocoa polyphenols don't immediately boost mood, satisfaction, calmness, or contentedness," says Clower. "This happens only when chocolate is eaten slowly and steadily."

Another key to weight loss with chocolate: Make it good. We're talking quality over quantity here. By choosing dark chocolate, you benefit the most, so go for a brand with at least 70 percent cacao or even unsweetened 100-percent cocoa powder, such as Hershey's Special Dark Cocoa (click for details).

Clower recommends limiting yourself to 40 grams of chocolate daily, divided into eight little servings each day. Eat slowly, letting the chocolate melt.

If you're not fond of dark chocolate, use ½ cup, or eight tablespoons, of 100 percent unsweetened powder, such as Scharffen Berger Natural Unsweetened Cocoa Powder. Try mixing with oatmeal, adding to a smoothie or even stirring into plain yogurt, says Clower.

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