Saturday, 7 April 2012

A sweet treat for Easter!

Does eating chocolate regularly make you thinner? Not really but don’t loose all your hope because…

Scientists from the University of California believe that there is a link between regular chocolate consumption and a lower body mass index (BMI*).

In a recent study published in the journal Archives of Internal Medicine (March 26th), Dr. Beatrice Golomb and colleagues analysed the diet, exercise and mood levels of about 1000 healthy US individuals and found that those who ate chocolate a few times a week were, on average, slimmer than those who ate it occasionally.

This link remained even when other factors were taken into account, such as the calorie intake (frequent chocolate consumption was actually linked to more overall calories), the frequency of exercise or the mood levels.

According to the authors, it is the how often you eat chocolate that is important rather than how much you eat (they found no link between the quantity of chocolate consumed and the BMI).

Previous studies have shown that chocolate consumption has other metabolic benefits, such as insulin sensitivity, blood pressure and cholesterol levels. To Dr. Golomb and her team, this study “now extends the favourable associations of chocolate to metabolic factors”.

“Chocolate products are often rich in sugar and fat, contributing to assumptions that chocolate boots BMI”, says the team in this report. Nonetheless, one possible explanation for these findings is that the antioxidants present in chocolate (called catechins) contribute to lean muscle mass and reduce weight, as shown previously in studies in rodents. The team suggests that a clinical trial in humans is now needed to see if this is indeed the case.

Study details:

1) The study analysed data from 1018 healthy men and women aged 20 to 85 years old (average 57). 972 patients had their BMI calculated (average 28) and 975 answered the food frequency questionnaire.

2) Data was collected regarding chocolate consumption, calorie intake, saturated fat intake, fruit and vegetables consumption (used as controls), exercise and mood levels.

3) Results have shown that on average the individuals ate chocolate 2 times/week and exercised 3.6 times/week. Chocolate consumption frequency was linked to greater calorie and saturated fat intake and higher mood scales. It was not linked to greater activity but to lower BMI.

In conclusion, before you reach for a chocolate bar next time, think that it is, to a great extent, your diet composition that will influence your BMI, rather than solely the quantity of what you eat.
But, hey, it is Easter, so give yourself a treat (preferably dark chocolate that has antioxidants that fight free radicals ;0) )!!!

Let's give this a thought, shall we?

* BMI is a reliable indicator of body fatness for most people and is used to screen for weight categories that may lead to health problems. It is calculated by dividing one’s weight by the square value of one’s height. Normal values range from 18.5 to 24.9. Bellow that those values a person is considered underweight. Between 25 and 29.9 a person is overweight and above 30 a person is obese. 

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