Chocolate. It’s not for every woman, but for many, it is a stress reliever, a confidant in the time of hormone turbulence, a treat for both quiet and celebratory moments. But most women watch the amount of chocolate they consume in a given time frame because of the sheer number of calories. In fact, some avoid it altogether while in their pursuit for thin bodies. But could it all be a mistake? Could chocolate actually make you thinner?
Some researchers seem to think so. Based on a recent study, frequent chocolate eaters had a lower body mass index than occasional chocolate indicators. Even more astounding was the fact that, overall, most frequent chocolate eaters consumed more calories than occasional chocolate eaters.
It would seem that chocolate may actually decrease the chances of the body turning other calories into fat deposits. At least that’s what Dr. Beatrice Golomb, associate professor in the department of medicine at the University of California, San Diego had to say.
“It’s really like all of your calories count a little bit less,” said Golomb.
But Golomb says to be careful about chocolate consumption as researchers also pointed out that when frequent chocolate eaters consumed large amounts of chocolate in single sittings were actually found to have higher BMIs than both groups.
“This does not provide free license to eat 30 pounds of chocolate every time you eat chocolate,” Golomb said.
But how is this all possible? Researchers on the study believe it may have something to do with polyphenols, an agent that is naturally found in cocoa beans. In animal studies, researchers have found that polyphenols increase the number of energy-burning mitochondria and improve blood flow throughout the body. Both of these reactions could explain weight loss and higher metabolism.
But some experts remain skeptical; experts like Katherine Tallmadge, a registered dietitian and author of “Diet Simple.”
“I just don’t think this study is done in a way that conclusions can be made for human health. I can’t imagine that chocolate just eaten ‘off the street’ would have those levels of [polyphenols] and would produce those kind of results,” said Tallmadge.
Generally, the kind of chocolate purchased in stores is very processed – preservatives, milk, sugars and the like are all added, leaving you with very little chocolate in the finished product. Dark chocolate, however, has less of these additives. Tallmadge says, if you want to eat chocolate for your health, you should go for unsweetened cocoa.
But that isn’t much fun now, is it?
For tasty chocolate consumption, Tallmadge recommends a 200 calorie chocolate bar for those that consume 2,000 calories per day. She also cautions that you avoid other high-calorie, empty calorie foods if you’re going to consume chocolate regularly.
Also, it is worth pointing out that the study didn’t offer any cause and effect findings. The study was only based on self-questionnaires, filled out by more than 1,000 adult men and women, aged 20 to 85. That leaves a lot of room for human error. The study may provide potential links, there is still much research to be done to determine if chocolate really was the reason that frequent chocolate eaters had a lower BMI.