I came across an article earlier that I couldn’t help but stop to read. “Chocolate keeps us thin,” it heralded. I’m sorry, what? Yes, I am an extremely healthy eater. But I’m also a raging chocoholic. So this may be the best news ever heard.
A study of more than 1,000 U.S. participants found that, on average, those who indulged in chocolate on a regular basis had lower body mass index (BMI) than those who consumed chocolate only occasionally. It was also noted that chocolate’s catechins – antioxidants shown to eliminate free radicals in the body – especially those in dark chocolate, may be able to increase lean muscle mass, while at the same time decreasing body fat.
Coupled with other benefits found in previous studies – including heart health as well as decreased insulin sensitivity, blood pressure and cholesterol levels – chocolate has started to gain recognition as a healthy part of a normal diet (in moderation, of course).
Granted, yes, the type of chocolate of going to have an impact – the nutritional value of dark chocolate considerably outweighs that of white chocolate, and even of milk chocolate. As a general rule, the higher cacao percentage (ideally at least 70%), the better the health benefits – and, of course, a small piece of high-end dark chocolate is going to be less calorically costly than, say, a King Size Snickers (which, side note … I think I read that they are doing away with the King Size Snickers … which is a good thing, considering it can cost you more than 500 calories).
As much as I hate to admit it, this is still not an excuse to go out and find one of those giant chocolate Easter bunnies that are all over the place this time of year. Despite its nutritional value, chocolate is still high in fat, sugar and overall calories – so you do still want to limit it to a reasonable (i.e. 1 oz.) serving size.
Read more about the study here.