Chocolate `can help shed flab, protect heart`

Dark chocolate contains antioxidant epicatechin which increases the rate at which a body burns fat.

Last Updated: May 02, 2011, 11:26 AM IST

Washington: Here`s the perfect excuse
to gorge on chocolate without a sense of guilt -- eating the
right amount and type of the mouth-watering treat can help one
shed flab and protect one`s heart, according to researchers.

Dr Lily Stojanovska of Victoria University and Dr John
Ashton made the revelations in their new book, `The Chocolate
Diet: How to eat chocolate and feel great about it`.

"We set out to dispel the myths about chocolate and
help chocolate lovers realise they don`t need to feel guilty
about eating it," Dr Stojanovska said.

Their book shows that certain properties in chocolate
can help with weight loss and protect heart health.

Good quality dark chocolate contains the antioxidant
epicatechin which increases the rate at which a body burns
fat, suppresses the appetite and contains more than twice the
antioxidant levels found in red wine, according to them.

Cocoa, a main ingredient in chocolate, is also rich
in the alkaloid theobromine, which is known to increase muscle
stimulation and energy, as well as widen blood vessels and
reduce blood pressure. It also decreases cholesterol levels
and reduces incidence of stroke and risks of heart disease.

Cocoa contains natural compounds that help the body
produce mood-altering brain chemicals, decreasing the risk of
depression, say the researchers in their book.

"We are not saying you can eat a family size block of
just any chocolate. It must be good quality, dark chocolate in
moderate amounts, and the bitter the better. Most chocolates
that contain 75 per cent or 85 per cent cocoa are usually more
bitter than the sweeter milk chocolates that contain a lot
less cocoa," she said.

The book also contains a 14-day eating plan that
incorporates a couple of squares of dark chocolate or a hot
chocolate drink before bedtime, as well as an exercise plan,
recipes, and interesting chocolate facts.

PTI