Dark Chocolate Eaters Have Less Total and Central Body Fat

According to researchers from the University of Granada in Spain, dark chocolate consumption is associated with lower central and total body fat levels among adolescents. And as if this is not good enough, these findings were independent of other factors like age, sex, physical activity levels and total energy intake.

Dark Chocolate Eaters

Study author Magdalena Cuenca-Garcia, PhD, the author of the study, said that they were very surprised by the results has dark chocolate has been traditionally considered unhealthy food because of its abundance of sugar and saturated fat. Following the study, they observed the numerous healthy benefits of some components of chocolate. The researchers note that, when it comes to diet, the quality of food might matter as much, if not more, than the number of calories that is consumed.

The researchers were led into studying healthy chocolate because of the existing research that links chocolate to an increase in cardiovascular healthy. For example, in study published back in 2010 in the European Heart Journal, the researchers reported that the consumption of chocolate lowered the risk of heart disease, partly because it lowers blood pressure.

After surveying almost 1,500 participants, aged 12 to 17 years, the researchers found that a higher level of reported dark chocolate consumption was associated with lower levels of total and central body fat. Those who were in the high consumption group eat about 1.5 ounces of chocolate a day, and were found to have lowered levels of fat than those who ate less at about 0.16 ounces a day. Those who ate 1.5 ounces also had more energy and were more physically active. The measurements of “fatness” were done using body mass index (BMI), waist circumference and body fat percentage.

BMI chart

The findings of the study reinforce the theory that the biological impact of food cannot be properly measured solely in calories. Weight gain might be influenced by the amount of calories consumed, but quality is just as important. It is the difference between eating a piece of processed preservative-laden white bread compared to one that is rich in whole grains without additives.

A chocolate-fueled junk food binge is never healthy, but dark chocolate can be incorporated in a balanced and heart-healthy diet. Many studies have shown that chocolate consumption among adults is associated with a lowered risk of cardiovascular diseases, primarily because of the catechins which is a kind of flavanoid. Catechins are antioxidants found in tea, chocolate, and apples, and can promote health be decreasing inflammation and lower blood pressure. Dark chocolate may also influence cortisol production and insulin sensitivity.

One limitation of these findings, however, is that researchers are not able to compare the results for people who ate milk chocolate versus darker chocolate, which contain a higher concentration of flavonoids. Until more studies are conducted, only moderate healthy chocolate consumption is recommended. Try the quantity of dark chocolate that is consumed by the kids in the study which is one and a half ounce or less a day, roughly about a square and a half.

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