People who consume a small amount of chocolate each day have a lower body mass index than people who do not regularly eat chocolate, according to a new University of California, San Diego study. The researchers studied 1,018 healthy men and women who had good diet and exercise habits and found that the body mass index of those who ate chocolate five times a week was one point lower than those who did not regularly eat chocolate. One point on the BMI scale is five pounds for someone who is five feet tall, and seven pounds for someone who is five feet 10 inches tall. "I was pretty happy with this news myself," says lead author Beatrice Golomb. "Findings show the composition of calories, not just the number of them, matters for determining ultimate weight." Cocoa has flavonoids, antioxidants that reduce inflammation, lower blood pressure, and improve vascular function. Studies have shown that consuming dark chocolate, which is rich in cocoa and has less sugar and fat than milk chocolate, helps reduce the risk of heart disease. "The antioxidants also affect metabolism and improve insulin sensitivity," Golomb says. "The chocolate provided better metabolism for all calories, not just the chocolate calories." The researchers recommend eating one ounce of dark chocolate each day, or adding cocoa powder to food or coffee each day.
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