The cocoa bean has been a popular part of western diets for hundreds of years; however, recently, it's gained fresh notoriety for having potential health benefits. Since they are often mixed with sugar to make sweet, high-calorie candies and desserts, cocoa beans have gained a bad reputation for making people gain weight. But does chocolate make you fat; or can it be a regular part of a healthy diet? According to a recent study, when consumed properly, chocolaty treats may actually promote health by encouraging weight-loss.

New Study Yields Surprising Results

Recently, researchers at the University of California San Diego surveyed 1000 participants to see if people who ate chocolaty foods weighed more than those who did not. Surprisingly, although most people tend to assume that chocolate will make them fat; the study found that it actually had the opposite effect.

According to the study, people who ate chocolaty foods tended to have lower body mass indexes than those who didn't. The researchers speculate that, because the cocoa bean contains powerful antioxidant polyphenols, it may have the ability to enhance the way our bodies' cells utilize energy.

Chocolate Can Make you Fat

Although research suggests that the cocoa bean may have the ability to improve health and enhance weight-loss; consumers shouldn't rush out to buy candy bars. Because chocolaty foods tend to include lots of sugar, they are often high in calories. Consuming too many calories will ultimately lead to weight gain; so it's important for dieters to stay away from sugary snacks.

On the other hand, since dark chocolate usually doesn't contain significant amounts of added sugar, it is thought to provide more health benefits, without promoting weight gain.

Ultimately, if you are interested in improving your health and losing weight, you may want to increase your dark chocolate intake. Not only might this provide your body with beneficial fat-burning antioxidants; it could help satisfy cravings and keep you from binging on unhealthy treats. That said, as with all things, the key is moderation. Experts recommend that people consume no more than a single serving per day, which typically amounts to about the size of an individual's palm.

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