It almost sounds like something out of a dream, but it’s true—scientists from the University of California, San Diego say that a chocolate habit may be more likely to help you slim down than fatten you up.
In their study, approximately 1,000 men and women in San Diego were weighed, measured, and given questionnaires. Those who reported eating chocolate more days a week had lower BMIs than those who claimed to eat it less frequently. (Search: What is my BMI?) And the results can’t be explained by better overall health habits—the sweet-toothed participants weren’t more likely to consume fewer calories or get more exercise. (Related: Chocolate desserts from the Flat Belly Diet)
"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," said study author Beatrice Golomb, MD, PhD in a statement. "In the case of chocolate, this is good news, both for those who have a regular chocolate habit, and those who may wish to start one."
The UC San Diego researchers caution that their study does not prove a cause and effect relationship, and that more research is needed to examine the effects of chocolate on the body. In the meantime, satisfy your cocoa cravings by having no more than one 40-gram serving of antioxidant-packed dark chocolate each day.
More: Have the foods you love and still drop pounds with the Eat This, Not That No-Diet Diet