Chocolate continues to gain ground as a health food, this time as a way to stay slim while enjoying regular decadent snacks. Yes, regular. A new study found that people who ate chocolate a few times a week were leaner than those who ate it once in a while. The study, published in the Archives of Internal Medicine, compared the diet, chocolate intake, and body mass index of over 1,000 men and women. The researchers used BMI as an indicator of whether the participants were overweight or obese. Even when taking into account other factors, like exercise and total calories consumed, people who ate chocolate regularly had lower BMIs. While there was a connection between frequency and thinness, there was none for quantity. So it’s more important to eat chocolate throughout the week than to load up on King Size bars. Previous studies have shown that chocolate has many other health benefits. Eating chocolate can promote beneficial changes to your blood pressure and cholesterol levels, both of which are good for the heart. Chocolate, especially dark, also contains plentiful levels of antioxidants that neutralize damage done to cells by “free radicals.” The researchers are uncertain what aspect of chocolate promotes slender physiques, but suspect it is caused by catechins. These compounds have been shown to improve lean muscle mass and reduce weight in mice. Chocolate also contains caffeine, which can boost metabolism. This research, however, is not a free pass to binge on chocolate. Further research is needed to determine whether the health benefits of chocolate outweigh the additional calories consumed. Don’t be concerned about eating the occasional chocolate bar. If you are trying to lose weight, though, eating more fruits and vegetables is a better option.
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