Chocolate makes us fat

Chocolate doesn't make you fat

Granada (Spain) - Chocolate contains a lot of fat and sugar, but it also has a particularly high content of flavonoids. In addition to promoting cardiovascular health, these ingredients may also counteract weight gain. This is now confirmed by the results of a Spanish study with young people from various European countries. Accordingly, the amount of belly fat and the proportion of total body fat of the test persons were lower, the higher their chocolate consumption was. This also shows that the high calorie content of a food does not necessarily indicate a harmful effect, the researchers write in the journal "Nutrition".

“As our study shows, chocolate can be beneficial in moderate amounts; however, excessive consumption is undoubtedly harmful, ”explain Magdalena Cuenca-García and her colleagues from the University of Granada. They asked 1,458 young people between the ages of 12 and 17 from nine European countries about their chocolate consumption. In doing so, they took into account all products that mainly consisted of chocolate. However, no distinction was made between whole milk and dark chocolate. In addition, the researchers determined the body mass index (BMI) and waist circumference of the test subjects and determined the body fat percentage using various methods. In addition, they assessed the physical activity of each adolescent using an accelerometer worn on the body for seven days.

The group that consumed the largest amount of chocolate at an average of 43 grams per day had a lower total fat percentage of body weight, less belly fat and a smaller waist size than the group with the lowest chocolate consumption of five grams per day. This relationship was independent of gender, age, total calorie intake and the level of physical activity. It persisted even when the consumption of other foods with a high flavonoid content - especially fruit, vegetables and tea - was taken into account in the statistical analysis.

The flavonoids contained in chocolate - mainly catechins - have various health-promoting properties: Among other things, they act as an antioxidant, are anti-inflammatory and lower blood pressure. In adults, a high catechin intake is associated with a lower BMI. This effect could be due to the fact that catechins influence cortisol production and the effectiveness of insulin, the researchers suspect. Therefore, the results of the study would also help to clarify which control mechanisms generally ensure a constant, optimal body weight.

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