Chocolate lovers can now rejoice as a new study suggests that eating chocolate can help fight weight gain. Contrary to the common belief that chocolate is a taboo for weight-watchers, the study shows that healthy people who ate chocolate more frequently tend to be thinner than people who eat it less often.
According to the researchers, the chocolate's extra calories may be more than offset by its positive effect on other conditions, such as heart disease, blood pressure and glucose control.
The U.S. study of 1,018 healthy men and women, who were free of heart disease, diabetes and cholesterol problems, found that people who frequently ate chocolate had a lower body mass index than people who did not.
The findings of the study were published as a research letter in the March 26 issue of Archives on Internal Medicine.
"Adults who consumed chocolate more frequently had a lower BMI [body mass index] than those who consumed chocolate less often," said the study led by Beatrice Golomb at the University of California, San Diego. "Our findings - that more frequent chocolate intake is linked to lower BMI - are intriguing."
People in the study reported eating chocolate an average of twice a week and exercising an average of 3.6 times a week. Their average age was 57, and 68 percent were men. They had an average body mass index or BMI of 28, which is considered overweight. The BMI is a measure of obesity, based on height and weight.
The BMI of participants who ate chocolate five times a week was one point lower than people who did not eat it regularly.
According to the researchers, chocolate is rich in antioxidant phyto-nutrients that can improve blood pressure as well as help lower cholesterol levels and blood sugar. This helps offset the sweet's high calorie and sugar content.
However, experts have warned of moderate intake of chocolate due to the absence of conclusive evidence. Daily intake of some types of chocolate that can contain lots of sugar and calories could lead to health issues.
Previous studies have suggested that dark chocolate can be beneficial to the heart and lower the risk of heart attack. Dark chocolate, because of its bitter flavor, may suppress appetite, whereas sweet chocolate may stimulate it.
A study done in Sweden in late 2011 revealed that women who eat at least two chocolate bars per week have a 20 percent lower risk of having a stroke, compared to those that rarely eat chocolate.
"Even consuming a relatively small amount of chocolate had quite a large impact on stroke risk," said Susanna Larsson, of the National Institute of Environmental Medicine in Stockholm, who led the study.
by RTT Staff Writer
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