Chocoholics rejoice! Your sweet little habit may be keeping you slim and healthy. Researchers from the University of California at San Diego have recently published findings in the Archives of Internal Medicine that assert regular chocolate eaters are actually thinner than those who stay away from the confection. While the metabolic benefits of moderate chocolate consumption might be “calorie-neutral”, results of the study found that adults who ate chocolate more frequently had a lower body mass index. This was despite the fact that frequent consumers did not eat fewer overall calories or exercise more than their counterparts.
In another piece of sweet news, heavy chocolate consumption has also been shown to reduce the risk of developing heart disease. A study appearing in the British Medical Journal confirms a relationship between cardiovascular health and through chocolate’s anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. Positive effects also include improving insulin sensitivity, mood stabilization during bouts of depression, reducing incidence of stroke, and lowering blood pressure.
The beneficial metabolic properties of chocolate are most likely due to compounds called “polyphenols”, chemicals that potentially inhibit pancreatic lipase, an enzyme that digests dietary fat. Another hypothesis postulates that chocolate may even aid in upping the amount of energy that our cells produce. While most of the studies did not differentiate between milk, light, or dark varieties of chocolate, the research suggests that all calories are not handled equally by the body. Some nutritionists say that dark chocolate in particular is a smart choice for dieters as it is bittersweet and not as hunger-stimulating as forms with higher levels of sugar. High fat content may help to satiate the body and curb appetite for longer periods of time. Small amounts of caffeine stimulate the burning of calories while the body is at rest.
So, the next time you want to demonstrate your affection for a loved one and your concern over their health all in the same gesture, pick up a large box of the new “Vitamin C”. Finally, a more delicious way to diet.
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