Chocolate will not make you fat. As a matter of fact, eating high-quality dark chocolate in moderation could actually help you maintain a slimmer waistline, according to a study recently published in the journal Nutrition. This study is only the latest in a body of research linking chocolate to positive health outcomes.
The research focused on 1458 adolescents between the ages of 12.5 and 17.5 in Europe. Dietary intake was analyzed along with weight, height, and body mass index (BMI). Body fat was tested using skinfolds, and waist circumference was measured. Sexual maturation and physical activity were also analyzed.
Those adolescents who ate more chocolate were found to have lower body fat, as measured by BMI and skin folds. This finding remained even after confounding factors like age, fat intake, caloric intake, tea and coffee consumption, age, sex, and sexual maturation were taken into consideration.
The objective of the study was stated as thus:
“There is a substantial interest in the potential role of chocolate in the prevention of cardiovascular diseases. It has been recently reported that a higher frequency of chocolate intake is linked to lower body mass index (BMI) in adults. The aim of the present study was to determine if higher chocolate consumption also is associated with lower BMI, as well as other markers of total and central body fat, in adolescents.”
In conclusion, they said, “Our results demonstrate that a higher chocolate consumption was associated with lower total and central fatness in European adolescents.”
Though the study didn’t seem to differentiate between various types of chocolate, dark chocolate is generally seen as the most healthful. It has less sugar, is less processed, and contains more powerful antioxidants in the cocoa bean.
Another study in 2008 found dark chocolate could reduce blood pressure and even LDL or “bad” cholesterol. Another found that those who ate dark chocolate a few times a week were slimmer than those who only ate it occasionally.
Chocolate has received a bad reputation primarily because it is included in otherwise unhealthful foods. Things like cake, muffins, and ice cream don’t only include chocolate, but plenty of sugar and processed carbohydrates. It’s the other stuff in these foods that produces ill health, not the chocolate (at least not if it’s dark).
So, whether you are trying to lose weight or maintain it, a daily square of high quality chocolate won’t only not derail your efforts, it could actually help.