Chocolate 'can help keep you slim'

view gallery VIEW GALLERY

 

Far from piling on the pounds, a chocolate habit can help keep you slim, new research suggests.

Just in time for Easter, scientists have announced the discovery every chocolate lover has been waiting for.

A study has found that, despite boosting calorie intake, regular chocolate consumption is related to lower body mass index (BMI).

Click here or on "View Gallery" for more food devils that turned out to be angels in disguise

The effect is modest but greater than can be explained by chance, say the US researchers who took account of influencing factors such as overall fat consumption and exercise.

BMI relates height and weight and is the standard measurement used to assess levels of obesity.

The good news about chocolate emerged after scientists screened a group of 972 men and women with an average age of 57 for a study of statins - cholesterol-lowering drugs.

Among other diet and lifestyle questions, participants were asked: "How many times a week do you consume chocolate?"

Chocolate is known to contain plant chemicals called polyphenols that combat heart disease and may influence metabolism.

The researchers suspected they might, to some extent at least, off-set the unwelcome effects of high saturated fat levels in chocolate bars and sweets.

No account was taken of different types of chocolate, some of which contain more healthy elements than others.

The results showed that chocolate was not only "calorie neutral" but actually appeared to make people slimmer.

Participants who ate chocolate on more days of the week than average were statistically likely to have a lower BMI than those who did not.

This was despite the fact that people who ate more chocolate did not consume fewer calories overall, or take more exercise.

In fact they ate more - chocolate consumption was associated with greater overall saturated fat intake.

Volunteers had an average BMI of 28 - meaning they were overweight - and ate chocolate on average twice a week. No link was seen between the amount of chocolate eaten and either higher or lower BMI.

The findings appear in Archives of Internal Medicine, published by the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Study leader 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.

"In the case of chocolate, this is good news - both for those who have a regular chocolate habit, and those who may wish to start one."

The scientists pointed out that chocolate products "are often rich in sugar and fat, contributing to assumptions that chocolate boosts BMI".

They added: "This study does not obviate the possibility that some chocolate-containing products do so, that some chocolate consumption profiles do so, or that for some people, even frequent modest chocolate consumption does so.

"Moreover, since findings are cross-sectional, causality in the observed association cannot be assumed. However, the finding fits with the literature suggesting benefits of chocolate for other metabolic factors."

Previous research on rodents has suggested that chemicals in chocolate might speed up metabolism.

One chemical derived from the chocolate ingredient cocoa, epicatechin, has been shown to boost numbers of mitochondria, the cell's energy-generating "power houses". Mitochondria burn up calories.

Epicatechin reduced weight in rats whose calorie intake and exercise levels were unchanged.

"Parallel processes in humans, if present, could underlie our findings," Dr Golomb's team concluded in their research article.

The results justified a randomised trial looking at the metabolic benefits of chocolate in humans, said the scientists.

PA

PROMOTED VIDEO
Life and Style
ebooksA superb mix of recipes serving up the freshest of local produce in a delicious range of styles
Life and Style
ebooksFrom the lifespan of a slug to the distance to the Sun: answers to 500 questions from readers
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Foundation Primary Teacher

    £100 - £140 per day: Randstad Education Birmingham: We are looking for Founda...

    Psychology Teacher

    Main Teacher Pay Scale : Randstad Education Leeds: Teacher of Psychology An en...

    International Promotions Manager - Consumer Products

    competitive + bonus + benefits: Sauce Recruitment: A global entertainment busi...

    Data Warehouse & Business Intelligence Co-ordinator

    £35000 per annum: Ashdown Group: This new opportunity has responsibilities des...

    Day In a Page

    How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?

    A crime that reveals London's dark heart

    How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?
    Meet 'Porridge' and 'Vampire': Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker

    Lost in translation: Western monikers

    Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker. Simon Usborne, who met a 'Porridge' and a 'Vampire' while in China, can see the problem
    Handy hacks that make life easier: New book reveals how to rid your inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone

    Handy hacks that make life easier

    New book reveals how to rid your email inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone with a loo-roll
    KidZania lets children try their hands at being a firefighter, doctor or factory worker for the day

    KidZania: It's a small world

    The new 'educational entertainment experience' in London's Shepherd's Bush will allow children to try out the jobs that are usually undertaken by adults, including firefighter, doctor or factory worker
    Renée Zellweger's real crime has been to age in an industry that prizes women's youth over humanity

    'Renée Zellweger's real crime was to age'

    The actress's altered appearance raised eyebrows at Elle's Women in Hollywood awards on Monday
    From Cinderella to The Jungle Book, Disney plans live-action remakes of animated classics

    Disney plans live-action remakes of animated classics

    From Cinderella to The Jungle Book, Patrick Grafton-Green wonders if they can ever recapture the old magic
    Thousands of teenagers to visit battlefields of the First World War in new Government scheme

    Pupils to visit First World War battlefields

    A new Government scheme aims to bring the the horrors of the conflict to life over the next five years
    The 10 best smartphone accessories

    Make the most of your mobile: 10 best smartphone accessories

    Try these add-ons for everything from secret charging to making sure you never lose your keys again
    Mario Balotelli substituted at half-time against Real Madrid: Was this shirt swapping the real reason?

    Liverpool v Real Madrid

    Mario Balotelli substituted at half-time. Was shirt swapping the real reason?
    West Indies tour of India: Hurricane set to sweep Windies into the shadows

    Hurricane set to sweep Windies into the shadows

    Decision to pull out of India tour leaves the WICB fighting for its existence with an off-field storm building
    Indiana serial killer? Man arrested for murdering teenage prostitute confesses to six other murders - and police fear there could be many more

    A new American serial killer?

    Police fear man arrested for murder of teen prostitute could be responsible for killing spree dating back 20 years
    Sweetie, the fake 10-year-old girl designed to catch online predators, claims her first scalp

    Sting to trap paedophiles may not carry weight in UK courts

    Computer image of ‘Sweetie’ represented entrapment, experts say
    Fukushima nuclear crisis: Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on - and may never return home

    Return to Fukushima – a land they will never call home again

    Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on from nuclear disaster
    Wildlife Photographer of the Year: Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize

    Wildlife Photographer of the Year

    Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize
    Online petitions: Sign here to change the world

    Want to change the world? Just sign here

    The proliferation of online petitions allows us to register our protests at the touch of a button. But do they change anything?