People who eat chocolate a few times each week are likely to have a healthier body weight than those who do not, according to a new study funded by the National Institutes of Health.
Researchers say the study’s results may illustrate that chocolate has beneficial effects on not only body weight, but also cholesterol and blood pressure. Led by Dr. Beatrice Golomb of the University of California, researchers determined that participants in a study were more likely to consume higher numbers of calories and amounts of saturated fat the more chocolate they ate, but were still likely to have lower body weight. Exercise, age and gender did not seem to have any impact on that particular trend, they stated in the Archives of Internal Medicine. The amount of chocolate was also not important, only the frequency with which people ate it.
Chocolate has been linked to lower blood pressure, healthier cholesterol levels and better insulin sensitivity in the past, possibly due to chemicals contained within it. Experts told Reuters that this may not be conclusive, since other factors could be responsible for the difference in health. One suggested that people with better health habits may reward themselves with chocolate, while another noted that economic factors may play a role. Researchers indicated that more study may be necessary.
This particular research did not differentiate between different types of chocolate, although past investigation has suggested that dark chocolate may be healthier than alternatives. While not conclusive, various studies have linked chocolate to decreased cancer risk and improved cardiovascular health, reducing the chances of heart disease.