It sounds whack, but a new scientific study suggests that people who eat chocolate regularly tend to be thinner. Sadly, that doesn't quite mean that you can run out and stuff your face full of lollies all day to keep your weight down -- but it does mean you probably should be eating some chocolate regularly.
The study of nearly 1000 people in the US, conducted by the University of California at San Diego, analysed diet, calorie and BMI intake. It found that those who ate chocolate a few times a week were slimmer than those who ate it less frequently.
Why? The researchers suggest that despite containing so many calories, chocolate contains compounds that favour weight loss. The link even remained when other factors -- including exercise -- were accounted for.
What's more, the study, which appears in Archives of Internal Medicine, suggests that quantities aren't important; instead, it's the frequency of chocolate consumption that is linked to low BMIs. Beatrice Golomb, one of the researchers, explained to the BBC:
"Our findings appear to add to a body of information suggesting that the composition of calories, not just the number of them, matters for determining their ultimate impact on weight."
The researchers suggest that the compounds in chocolate that are associated with lower BMI are antioxidants called catechins, which improve lean muscle mass and reduce weight.
Before you grab the candy, though, it's worth noting that the study observed lower BMIs in participants that consumed chocolate a few times a week, and even then the quantities didn't matter. So, a little bit of chocolate a few times a week should be plenty. Any more, and the sugar and fat will have the dominant effect. Sorry. [Archives of Internal Medicine via BBC]