Chocolate does not deserve its reputation as a baddie in the battle-of-the-bulge because it can actually assist with weight loss and improve health, according to revelations made by a Victoria University researcher in her new book, The Chocolate Diet: How to eat chocolate and feel great about it."
Dr Lily Stojanovska, co-author of the book with Dr John Ashton, has been involved in medical research and teaching in women's health, well-being and nutrition at the University for 20 years.
"We set out to dispel the myths about chocolate and help chocolate-lovers realise they don't need to feel guilty about eating it," she said.
The 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.
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 the incidence of stroke and risks of cardiovascular disease. Cocoa contains natural compounds that help the body produce mood-altering brain chemicals, decreasing the risk of depression.
"We are not saying you can eat a family-size block of just any chocolate," she said. "It must be good quality, dark chocolate in moderate amounts, and the bitter the better. Most chocolates that contain 75% or 85% cocoa are usually more bitter than the sweeter milk chocolates that contain a lot less cocoa."
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.
This is Professor Stojanovska's fourth co-authored book. Her others are: The Other Fact of Life: Taking Control of Menopause; Menopause for Dummies; and Food and Nutrition for Dummies.
A Kew resident, Professor Stojanovska is a founder and Chair of the University's Women's Wellness in the West Network.
The Chocolate Diet is published by HarperCollins and retails for $19.95 (ISBN: 9780732291792)
Professor Lily Stojanovska is available for interview on 0430 866 755.
Ann Marie Angebrandt, Media Officer,
Marketing and Communications Department,
Ph: (03) 9919 5487 or 0403 556 001.