Yes, really. There is strong research that suggests chocolate can be very beneficial for weight loss and may even help to tame the appetite.
There is one very important distinction to make, however: this is the case for unprocessed chocolate, known as cacao, which is the raw ingredient in all chocolate bars.
Considered more valuable than gold by the Mayans and commonly referred to as the "food of the gods", cacao has immense nutritional value. Unfortunately it is lost during the process of making the regular chocolate confectionery. However, raw chocolate bars and raw cacao powder are becoming increasingly available in the UAE.
One US study of nearly 1,000 people found that those who ate this sort of chocolate a few times a week were, on average, thinner and had a lower BMI than those who indulged only occasionally.
The study's suggestion is that cacao contains compounds and chemicals that favour weight loss by curbing appetite. Cacao contains one of the highest concentrations of antioxidants of any food in the world, by weight: cacao has more antioxidants than red wine, blueberries, acai, pomegranates and goji berries combined.
Another study headed by Dr Beatrice Golomb, from the University of California in San Diego, suggests that antioxidant compounds found in chocolate, called catechins, can improve lean muscle mass and reduce weight. Cacao is also one of the richest sources of magnesium which, together with its impressive antioxidant content, helps explain the evidence that suggests eating chocolate can also prevent strokes, improve your cardiovascular health, reduce blood pressure, support hormonal balance and improve your mood.
Good options include Conscious Chocolate bars from Organics Foods & Cafe or Loving Earth bars from Milk & Honey.
Laura Holland is a well-being consultant and nutritional therapist. For more information, visit www.BeUtifulYou.co.uk