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Mar 27, 2012 7:48 PM

The Skinny on Chocolate

(NBC) - There's sweet news for diehard chocoholics.

New research indicates a daily indulgence of the candy is associated with a smaller waistline.

"People who ate chocolate more frequently had lower body mass index, meaning lower weight for their height," reports Dr. Beatrice Golomb.

Dr. Golomb and her colleagues at the University Of California San Diego School of Medicine collected information on about a thousand adults: Their height, weight, exercise, and diet, including the amount of chocolate they regularly eat.

Although the study participants didn't specify what kind of chocolate they ingested, dietitians say dark chocolate is abundant in heart-healthy plant compounds that act as antioxidants in the body.

"It's associated with lower blood pressure, greater insulin sensitivity, favorable lipid profiles. These are often factors that track with weight," Dr. Golomb explains.

Conventional wisdom suggests the extra calories, sugar and fat in chocolate trump any benefits, but not in this study.

"This was not explained by lower calorie intake, in fact people who ate chocolate more frequently ate more calories, and it was not explained by greater activity," notes Dr. Golomb.

The link between greater chocolate consumption and a smaller body mass index was stronger in people who didn't over-indulge in one sitting, but ate a small amount every day.

The chocolate industry did not fund this research.

The project was spurred in part by personal interest.

"Chocolate is one of my favorite vegetables," Golomb laughs.

Granted, not as healthy as a real vegetable, but one that should get its just deserts.


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