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Cacao-lovers, this one’s for you: A new study has linked chocolate consumption and lower body-fat levels, a finding that goes against the conventional wisdom that chocolate is fattening.

Researchers at the University of Granada in Spain found that eating chocolate was associated with lower level of total fat deposits, even in cases where people were not dieting or exercising.

The researchers, whose findings were published in the journal Nutrition, speculated that the results could be due to catechins, a type of antioxidant that may positively influence cortisol production and insulin sensitivity — both factors in becoming overweight or obese.

Chocolate, especially dark chocolate, has received some good press in recent years for its antioxidant properties. Most nutrition experts agree that chocolate with 60 percent cacao or higher has the most health benefits. Still, it has never been a dieter’s darling due to its sugar, fat, cholesterol, and calorie content.

But the study, which involved 1,458 adolescents between 12 and 17 years old in nine European countries, shows that calories are only one part of a food’s nutritional profile.

A few caveats:

    • While the study is promising, it only focuses on chocolate consumption in teens and pre-teens.
    • The findings state that “higher consumption of chocolate” is associated with lower levels of body fat, yet the researchers recommend eating “moderate” quantities of the food. “As they say: you can have too much of a good thing,” the study authors state.
  • The researchers don’t specify what is considered “high” and “moderate” consumption, and don’t make recommendations regarding how much or what type of chocolate to eat.

 Tell us: Do you eat chocolate? If not, does this study make you re-think your reluctance? Leave a comment below or tweet us @experiencelife.

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