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