The crossover study involved 16 men who said they liked both milk and dark chocolate, and showed that after eating the dark variety, they consumed fewer calories at a subsequent meal. The participants also reported less craving for fatty, salty and sugary foods.
“In other words, eating dark chocolate may be an efficient way to keep your weight down over Christmas,” the researchers said.
The participants fasted for 12 hours before being given 100g of chocolate to consume in 15 minutes. They were then asked to record details about their appetite every half hour, rating their cravings for particular foods.
Two and a half hours after eating the chocolate, they were given pizza and were instructed to eat as much as they wanted until they felt ‘comfortably satiated’. Total calorie intake was recorded after eating the pizza.
“The results were significant,” wrote the researchers. “The calorie intake at the subsequent meal where they could eat as much pizza as they liked was 15 per cent lower when they had eaten dark chocolate beforehand.”
This latest study builds on a raft of scientific research regarding the potential benefits of dark chocolate. In particular, studies have suggested that antioxidants in chocolate could help lower blood pressure and reduce the risk of heart disease – and confectioners have been feeling the benefits of the wave of consumer interest that has followed.
According to latest figures from Mintel, sales of dark chocolate almost doubled in the UK from 2005 to 2007, to reach £85 million last year (approximately €94.26m at today’s rates).