The craving for chocolate is one of the most common and difficult to resist of all food cravings. Researchers noted in the journal Appetite that the craving for chocolate is probably the most intense of all food cravings.
The choco-urge is often jump-started by a need for a quick pick-me-up in mood or energy, or to just relieve stress or boredom. But not all chocolate is the same and not all chocolate is bad for you.
Most candy bars are heavily processed and loaded with sugar. The processing removes the healthful benefits by removing the flavonoids. In fact, more than half of the flavonoids are reduced by processing. The sugar raises insulin levels and leads to inflammation.
Milk chocolate candy bars also contain milk. Milk cancels out the chocolate’s antioxidant effects, according to the journal Nature. Proteins in the milk bind with chocolate’s antioxidants and make them less absorbable by the body.
A study published in the Journal of Agriculture and Food Chemistry sought to determine the healthful nature of chocolate in various forms. It found, in terms of antioxidant content, cocoa powder was best. It was followed by unsweetened baking chocolate, dark chocolate and milk chocolate.
Dark chocolate has been shown to decrease anxiety levels. It can also reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease by one-third in women and one-fourth in men. Dark unprocessed chocolate also helps to control glucose metabolism.
It’s important to differentiate between milk chocolate and dark chocolate. Dark chocolate has less sugar and is, therefore, more bitter. Unprocessed cacao — which contains the most antioxidants and, therefore, provides more healthful benefits — is enjoyed by only about 5 percent of the population because of its bitter taste.
If you have a chocolate craving, it’s best to satisfy it with low-sugar dark chocolate. Otherwise, you can curb your urge for a chocolate bar by taking a walk. So instead of your favorite chocolate bar, grab your walking shoes.
According to findings by the School of Sport and Health Sciences at the University of Exeter in England, taking a brisk 15-minute walk reduces the craving for chocolate, even when the chocolate is readily available.