Researchers at the University of Granada, in a study funded by the European Union, have found that greater chocolate consumption lowers body mass index (BMI) and central body fat in the abdominal area—regardless of diet or physical activity. Of course, a healthy diet and regular physical activity are foundational to overall health and weight management, but these findings are still pretty amazing. More specifically, the flavonoids and catechins found in chocolate are involved with how chocolate interacts with the body.
In this particular study, published in the journal Nutrition, 1,458 European adolescents between the ages of 12 and 17 were studied for their chocolate consumption and body mass index correlation. The participants’ body mass indices were recorded before and after the study, and the researchers measured body fat percentage, height, weight and waist circumference as well. Interestingly, the results were similar even when factoring in age, sexual maturation, energy intake and exercise.
And just what were those results? Higher chocolate consumption was associated with lower levels of total weight and with lower central abdominal weight. Not only is this good news for chocolate lovers who are mindful of their weight, but this also suggests the biological impact of foods should not be determined solely from their calorie content.
In fact, chocolate contains more than calories and healthy fats. It also delivers on beneficial flavonoids, especially catechins, which have a strong, positive influence on cortisol production and insulin sensitivity—both of which are connected to weight management as well as other health benefits.
The authors of the study say, “In moderate quantities, chocolate can be good for you, as our study has shown. Our findings are also important from a clinical perspective, since they contribute to our understanding of the factors underlying the control and maintenance of weight.” But this isn't the only study that has gleaned these “sweet” results, either. In fact, scientists at the University of California discovered that chocolate consumption lessened the overall body mass index of every participant.
Of course, you’ll want to eat chocolate of any kind in moderation, and the healthiest chocolate to choose is one that is raw, organic, dark and high in cacao content.
So, go ahead and enjoy chocolate in moderate amounts! It’s deeply satisfying and could help in controlling weight—a win-win situation.