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Chocolate lovers rejoice: More chocolate means less body fat

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November 7, 2013

A new study has found a link between higher chocolate consumption and lower body fat level...

A new study has found a link between higher chocolate consumption and lower body fat levels (Photo: Shutterstock)

In what may be the best news for chocoholics since scientists at the University of Cambridge found that higher chocolate consumption was associated with a significant reduction in cardiovascular disease, diabetes and stroke, researchers at the University of Granada are reporting that it's also associated with lower levels of total fat deposits – in the bodies of adolescents at least.

The researchers from the Faculty of Medicine and Faculty of Physical Activity and Sports Sciences at the University of Granada conducted a study comprising 1,458 European adolescents aged between 12 and 17 years old and found that not only did higher chocolate consumption not lead to an increase in fat deposits in the participants, but it was actually associated with lower levels of total fat – fat deposits all over the body and central-abdominal fat – regardless of physical activity and diet.

The study estimated total fat deposits through body mass index, waist circumference and body fat percentage, which was measured by skinfolds and bioelectrical impedance analysis. Lower levels of total and central fat deposits were witnessed in participants with higher chocolate intake, regardless of age, sex, sexual maturation, total energy intake, physical activity and intake of saturated fats, fruits, vegetables, tea and coffee.

The researchers suggest the results could be partly due to catechins, a type of flavonoid that chocolate is especially rich in that boasts multiple health benefits and influences cortisol production and insulin sensitivity in the body. “They have important antioxidant, antithrombotic, anti-inflammatory and antihypertensive effects and can help prevent ischemic heart disease," explains Magdalena Cuenca-García who was the principle author of the study.

“The most recent epidemiologic research focuses on studying the relation between specific foods – both for their calorie content and for their components – and the risk factors for developing chronic illnesses, including overweight and obesity,” the researchers say in their study.

But before you go out and gorge yourself on chocolate bars, the researchers warn that, as with most things, chocolate should be consumed in moderation.

“In moderate quantities, chocolate can be good for you, as our study has shown. But, undoubtedly, excessive consumption is prejudicial. As they say: you can have too much of a good thing."

The team's study is published in the journal Nutrition.

Source: University of Granada

About the Author
Darren Quick Darren's love of technology started in primary school with a Nintendo Game & Watch Donkey Kong (still functioning) and a Commodore VIC 20 computer (not still functioning). In high school he upgraded to a 286 PC, and he's been following Moore's law ever since. This love of technology continued through a number of university courses and crappy jobs until 2008, when his interests found a home at Gizmag.   All articles by Darren Quick
7 Comments

Good news confirming that about 8g of saturated fat and at least 10 g of sugar in 1 oz of chocolate did not add to body weight, but as stated may not be healthy. But if the benefit comes from cocoa, why not use non- dutched natural cocoa powder alone added to healthy breakfast cereals easily identified by looking for zero sodium in cocoa.

rutnerh
8th November, 2013 @ 10:19 am PST

It doesn't sound like they made an effort determine if the chocolate caused the lower body fat or if higher body fat caused a reduction in chocolate consumption. Equating of correlation with causation used to be considered irrational but it seems to be required methodology these days.

Snake Oil Baron
8th November, 2013 @ 12:34 pm PST

My hot chocolate concoction:

8 oz boiling water

4 squares 100 % bitter chocolate (I use Luker brand)

1 tablespoon 100 % cocoa (cheapest brand on shelf)

4 scoops 100 % stevia extract ( NOW brand )

4 oz tap water (brings temp below 140 F for drinking

10 to 30 grams mollasses (get brand with highest potassium on shelf)

1/2 teaspoon to 1 tablespoon cinnamon

Options

Reduce stevia if using honey, by your preference

1/8 teaspoon tumeric WITH 1/8 teaspoon black pepper

could put in teaspoon to tablespoon maca leave out tumeric & pepper

1 or 2 stevia size scoops of hot pepper (scoop is about 1/2 of 0.2" sphere)

up to 1/8 teaspoon table salt, absolutely no more than that, too much salt at one time will wreck your health.

Dave B13
8th November, 2013 @ 01:13 pm PST

Yayyyyy!!

Reek Rend
8th November, 2013 @ 10:14 pm PST

They pretty much know it's carbs and sugar (and worse still fructose) that make you fat. Not saturated fats (according to many studies these raise HDL, and reduce triglycerides). And that the hard LDL and trilgycerides are the things that give you heart disease.

Check out Gary Taubes' book Good Calories, Bad Calories for some sanity on the topic.

P.s. I'm in no way affiliated with Gary or any food-producing enterprise.

Adrien
10th November, 2013 @ 08:28 pm PST

sponsored research by a chocolate manufacturer no doubt

Gavin Roe
11th November, 2013 @ 02:23 am PST

I hope the chocolate lovers won't hate me for skepticism, but I have to ask if this study is purely correlational or was it a controlled study in which they added or removed chocolate from people's diets and monitored what happened?

My worry is that it sounds like it was just a correlation study in which case the reverse causality makes more sense: adolescents who have more body fat tend to eat less chocolate, possible in an effort to lose body fat. Those who are genetically (or otherwise) prone to be thinner tend to enjoy chocolate more often because they aren't as worried about it.

Just a thought.

Daniel Schegh
12th November, 2013 @ 01:27 pm PST
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