London: Here's the perfect excuse to gorge on chocolates -- eating the mouth-watering snack regularly can help people stay slim, say researchers.
The findings come from a study of nearly 1,000 US people which looked at diet, calorie intake and body mass index -- a measure of obesity. It found those who ate chocolate a few times a week were slimmer than those who ate it occasionally.
Even though chocolate is loaded with calories, it contains ingredients that may favour weight loss rather than fat synthesis. So, despite boosting calorie intake regular chocolate consumption was related to lower BMI in the study, say the researchers.
The link remained even when other factors, like how much exercise individuals did, were taken into account. And it appears it is how often one eats chocolate that is important, rather than how much of it one eats.
The study found no link with quantity consumed. And, according to the researchers, there is only one chance in a hundred that their findings could be explained by chance alone.
"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," Lead author Beatrice Golomb at the University of California at San Diego, was quoted by the 'BBC' as saying.
Dr Golomb and her team believe that antioxidant compounds, called catechins, can improve lean muscle mass and reduce weight -- at least studies in rodents would suggest this might be so.
Mice fed for 15 days with epicatechin (present in dark chocolate) had improved exercise performance and observable changes to their muscle composition. They say clinical trials are now needed in humans to see if this is the case.