Chocolate 'may help keep people slim'

Chocolate Chocolate contains antioxidants but is also high in fat and sugar

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People who eat chocolate regularly tend to be thinner, new research suggests.

The findings come from a study of nearly 1,000 US people that looked at diet, calorie intake and body mass index (BMI) - a measure of obesity.

It found those who ate chocolate a few times a week were, on average, slimmer than those who ate it occasionally.

Even though chocolate is loaded with calories, it contains ingredients that may favour weight loss rather than fat synthesis, scientists believe.

Despite boosting calorie intake, regular chocolate consumption was related to lower BMI in the study, which is published in Archives of Internal Medicine.

The link remained even when other factors, like how much exercise individuals did, were taken into account.

And it appears it is how often you eat chocolate that is important, rather than how much of it you eat. The study found no link with quantity consumed.

According to the researchers, there is only one chance in a hundred that their findings could be explained by chance alone.

But the findings only suggest a link - not proof that one factor causes the other.

Lead author Dr Beatrice Golomb, from the University of California at San Diego, said: "Our findings appear to add to a body of information suggesting that the composition of calories, not just the number of them, matters for determining their ultimate impact on weight."

This is not the first time scientists have suggested that chocolate may be healthy for us.

Other studies have claimed chocolate may be good for the heart.

Consumption of certain types of chocolate has been linked to some favourable changes in blood pressure, insulin sensitivity and cholesterol level.

And chocolate, particularly dark chocolate, does contain antioxidants which can help to mop up harmful free radicals - unstable chemicals that can damage our cells.

Dr Golomb and her team believe that antioxidant compounds, called catechins, can improve lean muscle mass and reduce weight - at least studies in rodents would suggest this might be so.

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Mice fed for 15 days with epicatechin (present in dark chocolate) had improved exercise performance and observable changes to their muscle composition.

They say clinical trials are now needed in humans to see if this is the case.

But before you reach for a chocolate bar, there are still lots of unanswered questions. And in the absence of conclusive evidence, experts advise caution.

While there's no harm in allowing yourself a treat like chocolate now and again, eating too much might be harmful because it often contains a lot of sugar and fat too.

And if you are looking to change your diet, you are likely to benefit most from eating more fresh fruits and vegetables.


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  • rate this

    Comment number 111.

    101. JT

    Ahhhh - so it's easter soon is it? Yet another story planted by the chocolate marketing genius' at Cadbury/Nestle etc etc


    Much like Simon Cowells house getting broken into by a 'mad fan' the week the new series of 'Britains Got Talent' started.

    You think his security would be better.

  • rate this

    Comment number 110.

    Well of course it helps as chocolate is a good source of magnesium. For people living in areas with soft water, such as Scotland, there is very little magnesium in the water and we wonder why we have such poor health up here? And no, it isn't the appalling diet - I know plenty of healthy weight people who eat well coming down with cancer, ms etc. Try searching for magnesium deficiency online...

  • rate this

    Comment number 109.

    This is very mis leading!....chocolate is only of any value if it does not contain large amounts of fat and sugar. Most people who read this consider cheap chocolate with low coco solids OK to eat.WRONG!

    Eat only high coco solid low sugar and fat.

    Correction most people cannot afford this or don't like the real bitter flavour of it.You are reminded that coco is going up in price alarmingly.

  • rate this

    Comment number 108.

    'And if you are looking to change your diet, you are likely to benefit most from eating more fresh fruits and vegetables.'

    The last paragraph in this story is UNTRUE for many.

    I am very slim (52k). I eat 45g of dark chocolate every day & lean proteins, oats, wholegrains and a few greens.

    IF I eat LOTS of fruit & veg (like 5 portions a day), my weight balloons! Same for most girls I know.

  • rate this

    Comment number 107.

    Sofiane-when I was a kid we ate Yorkshire and gravy first to take edge off appetite before the roast beef. Families ate great steamed puddings because they were cheap, but everyone was thin because they did not eat much. People seem to eat far more, bigger portions and more calorie laden foods than we used to. We live in a time of plenty but our bodies were evolved to successfully with scarcity.

  • rate this

    Comment number 106.

    Really i doubt,but what about the teeth,is it not healthy for that?unless i was taught wrong....

  • rate this

    Comment number 105.

    sounds like a sales ploy for Easter coming up to me!

  • rate this

    Comment number 104.

    I wouldn't run to store buying loads of chocolates.
    The chocolate the article is talking about is not an XYZ bar, but *real* cocoa beans crushed and used. That way, chocolate can be beneficial, but getting the real beans and doing it yourself is also a calorie burning process, if you know what I mean.

  • rate this

    Comment number 103.

    There's chocolate and then there's Chocolate. A nasty milk chocolate bar from the sweet counter isn't going to do you a lot of good but a little of a good quality dark chocolate is a different thing entirely. It may well have considerable health benefits.

  • rate this

    Comment number 102.

    How come when I eat chocolate in winter I put on weight and when I don't eat chocolate in summer I lose weight?

  • rate this

    Comment number 101.

    Ahhhh - so it's easter soon is it? Yet another story planted by the chocolate marketing genius' at Cadbury/Nestle etc etc

    People can be just so stupid

  • rate this

    Comment number 100.

    and not all the chocolate is the same! Most of the chocolate produced by large food companies you buy in shops are just full of sugar and low quality fats, with just a hint of real chocolate

  • Comment number 99.

    All this user's posts have been removed.Why?

  • rate this

    Comment number 98.

    I am seriously contemplating a diet of foods which grow or originate from plants and animals native to Europe-since that is where I reckon the digestive systems of my ancestors have been evolving post and pre Ice Age. So anything native to the Americas and East Asia is out-soy, chillies, tomatoes, and chocolate etc. Rye bread, cheese and water cress in.

  • rate this

    Comment number 97.

    just imagine you start your meal with a very sweet pudding,,, you'll feel full and heavy eventhough you didn't have your main course

  • rate this

    Comment number 96.

    One more reason my girlfriend could buy this. sigh.....

  • rate this

    Comment number 95.

    Enough with the fat bashing!
    I have quite advanced Polycystic ovary syndrome, I've had surgery. I am fat. I have no problems in saying it. However, I do eat well, my mum is a dietician, I play sport and I exercise (3k 4 times a week). No matter how many calories I take or burn off, I can never shift some weight.
    Stop giving out the fat insults? It can't always be helped.

  • rate this

    Comment number 94.

    The logical conclusion is that people with a higher BMI are less likely to eat chocolate on a regular basis because they're watching their weight so naturally the people who eat it more often are going to be slimmer. This study proves absolutely nothing.

  • rate this

    Comment number 93.

    I wonder who funded the research?

  • rate this

    Comment number 92.

    They used BMI as a measure , the same test that classes many althetes as obese , oh well there's accuracy out the window.

    Just enjoy eating chocolate and the fun ways to burn it off :P


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