Before you run out and stock up on chocolate bars, read the whole article please. Yes! Yes! Yes! There really ARE health benefits of chocolate, and it CAN be a part of a weight loss program. There are a few things to know first.
First we talk about the boring stuff...free radicals, antioxidants, and flavonoids:
Free radicals: These little rascals, I mean radicals, are unstable atoms or groups of atoms that occur in the body as a result of everyday atomic processes in reaction to such intrusive things as pollution, cigarette smoke, and sunlight. They are a natural part of the process of being alive, but they can damage cells, and research seems to implicate them, at least to some extent, in the growth of cancer, cardiovascular disease, strokes, cataracts, and other problems related to age.
Antioxidants: The free radicals are unstable because they have lost an electron, and they begin to steal electrons from other atoms and molecules within the body. This creates more free radicals and more damage, even to the DNA itself. Antioxidants have an extra electron to spare and lend it to the free radicals, thereby stopping their destructive rampage. The antioxidants will also turn the free radical into a waste product, allowing it to be flushed (no pun intended) from the body. There are many antioxidants, but some of the more common sources are vitamins C & E. They are also available in many fruits and vegetables.
Flavonoids: Android, asteroid? No relation. Flavonoids are pretty common throughout nature, and they are anti- a lot of bad health things. As you may have guessed, they are also antioxidants. They are found in all kinds of stuff, such as red wine, tea, and beer...AND...Chocolate! Oh yeah! You can also eat the fruits and veggies mentioned above and get them, but chocolate's more fun, right?
NOW THE BAD NEWS ABOUT CHOCOLATE
Not all chocolate is created equal...at least in the finished product. The more processing that is involved generally removes more of the flavonoids. Therefore, dark chocolate probably contains the most flavonoids and provides the most antioxidant qualities.
Unfortunately, chocolate by itself doesn't taste too good, so to make it palatable, fats and sugars are added. Those are the really bad things about chocolate, particularly if you are on a diet or in some other type of weight loss program
CHOCOLATE AND WEIGHT LOSS
As you can imagine, there is not a lot you can do about the ingredients added to chocolate. These ingredients are, for the most part, exactly the sort of things you need to avoid in your diet or on your weight loss program. However, regularly adding reasonable amounts of chocolate products to your diet can help you attain your weight loss goals in indirect ways.
Occasional chocolate treats are not of any great importance if you are doing everything else right. One candy bar or chocolate chip cookie is not going to destroy a week's worth of adherence to your weight loss program. In fact, knowing that you can allow yourself a treat or reward for "being good" can help you get over some of the tough parts. This is particularly true if you have the sort of self control to keep portion sizes reasonable and spaced at sensible intervals.
You can also be proactive and head off the "carb cravings" that sometimes push you over the edge by drinking some low-carb chocolate milk for example. You won't get as much of the benefits from the flavonoids, but satisfying yourself in advance with the taste and texture of the drink, or other snack, may help you retain control.
One of the major reasons diets and other weight loss programs fail is because people feel deprived. It is better to commit the occasional small dietary sin than to give up completely. Integrating chocolate and other foods you enjoy in controlled-portion servings can help you make your weight loss plan a success.
Donovan Baldwin is a Dallas area writer. A graduate of the University Of West Florida (1973) with a BA in accounting, he is a member of Mensa and has held several managerial positions. After retiring from the U. S. Army in 1995, he became interested in internet marketing and developed various online businesses. He has been writing poetry, articles, and essays for over 40 years, and now frequently publishes articles on his own websites and for use by other webmasters. You can find his blog on health and fitness at http://nodiet4me.blogspot.com Find a weight loss program that lets you eat chocolate at http://diet.free-business-hosting.com
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