Want less body fat? Nibble on chocolate!

A legitimate reason for chocoholics to indulge in the sweet delights of tasty treat without being racked by guilt!!

Contrary to popular belief that chocolate is fattening, a new research shows that consumption of the cocoa delight helps reduce weight. The study found eating lots of chocolate leads to lower levels of total fat deposits in the body regardless of whether the person is physically active or on a diet.

Study details

In order to establish whether greater chocolate intake was tied to higher body mass index and other indicators of total and central body fat the researchers conducted a study.

It involved 1458 adolescents aged between 12 and 17 years who were part of the Healthy Lifestyle in Europe by Nutrition in Adolescence (HELENA), a project, sponsored by the European Union that examines eating patterns and lifestyle of youngsters in 9 European countries, including Spain.

The analysis revealed higher chocolate consumption led to lower levels of total fat deposits all over the body and central abdominal fat. Estimates of the total fat deposits (body mass index, waist circumference and body fat percentage) were calculated by skinfolds and bioelectrical impedance analysis.

The results persisted irrespective of factors like age, sex, sexual maturation, total energy intake, physical activity and consumption of saturated fats, fruits, vegetables, tea and coffee.

Chocolates rich in flavonols

The researchers attribute the health benefits to the natural compounds known as flavonols found in abundance in chocolate.

Lead researcher, Magdalena Cuenca-García from the Faculty of Medicine and Faculty of Physical Activity and Sports Sciences at the University of Granada explains, “They have important antioxidant, antithrombotic, anti-inflammatory and antihypertensive effects and can help prevent ischemic heart disease.”

He added, “The most recent epidemiologic research focuses on studying the relation between specific foods – both for their calorie content and for their components and the risk factors for developing chronic illnesses, including overweight and obesity.”

However, the researchers caution that the results should not tempt people to overindulge in chocolate. They stated, “In moderate quantities, chocolate can be good for you, as our study has shown. But, undoubtedly, excessive consumption is prejudicial. As they say: you can have too much of a good thing.”

The findings are published in the journal Nutrition.