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Happy weight loss news: Cocoa boosts metabolism, and diet sodas help you slim

Eat chocolate, lose weight? Well, maybe.
Eat chocolate, lose weight? Well, maybe.
Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images

In a perfect world, chocolate would rank as the number one health food. Now a new study takes dieters one step closer to that perfect world by revealing that cocoa can boost your metabolism, reported Confectionery News on Aug. 22.

Researchers discovered that mice who ate food supplemented with 10 percent cocoa powder gained less weight than their cocoa-deprived pals. But more studies need to be done to determine whether chocolate can actually prevent weight gain.

Some studies, however, have shown that moderate amounts of dark chocolate do have some health benefits. Researchers at the University of L'Aquila in Italy found that study participants who consumed dark chocolate daily lowered their potential for insulin resistance by almost 50 percent, according to Women's Health magazine.

Because dark chocolate has healthy fats, it causes sugar to be absorbed more slowly, thus avoiding insulin spikes. In addition, Swiss scientists discovered dark chocolate can help with stress.

Neuroscientist Will Clower is so impressed with the weight loss benefits of dark chocolate that he even wrote a book about it: "Eat Chocolate, Lose Weight: New Science Proves You Should Eat Chocolate Every Day." He emphasizes that it's important to eat the right type and amount to reap the full weight loss benefits.

But what if you love chocolate so much that you regularly indulge in enormous hot fudge sundaes. Can you cancel the caloric impact by super-sizing your diet soda as well? Alas, no evidence exists to support that philosophy. But a new study has shown that replacing beverages containing sugar with artificially sweetened drinks reduced fat accumulation and weight in children, reported the Atlantic on Aug. 22.

In some ways, the decision to use artificial sweeteners involves choosing the lesser of two evils. Sugar has been linked to conditions ranging from diabetes to heart disease as well as weight gain. And while some reports have shown artificial sweeteners aren't the ideal food, a new meta-analysis shows that when you substitute artificial sweeteners for sugar, you are more apt to experience "modest weight loss."

The new study, published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, emphasizes that swapping is the best way to benefit from artificial sweeteners. For example, if you typically drink a can of Coke every afternoon, you can take in fewer calories by drinking a diet Coke instead.

As for those previous studies showing that artificial sweeteners cause weight gain? They examined what happens if you consume artificial sweeteners as an isolated substance. Dr. Barry Popkin, a renowned professor of global nutrition at the University of North Carolina, noted that such studies are based on atypical uses of sugar replacements, making them invalid.

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