(March 27) A Wall Street Journal story from Jennifer Corbett Dooren about a corelation between thinness and chocolate swirling around the Internets yesterday has endurance athletes and coaches touting the benefits of this ancient super food.
The article cites a study in Southern California that surveyed 1,000 adults about their eating habits and discovered that people who ate a little of the sweet stuff mutiple times a week were skinnier than those who don't. Here's the weird part: the cocoa eaters actually consumed more calories per week than those who didn't.
The findings suggest that staying trim is not just a factor of calories in, calories out, but also depends on the type of calories eaten--in this case a high-fat, high-calorie dose of antioxidant rich dark chocolate.
Here's the key information from the story:
"...the study's lead researcher, Beatrice Golomb, an associate professor in the Department of Medicine at the University of California, San Diego. Eating a small amount of chocolate each of five days during a week was linked to a lower BMI, even if the person ate more calories overall and didn't exercise more than other participants.
"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," says Dr. Golomb.
The findings were published as a research letter in Monday's Archives of Internal Medicine.
Dr. Golomb said the weight difference among more frequent chocolate eaters was modest but interestin"g given that more calories and saturated fat were consumed. Chocolate contains fat in the form of stearic acid.
Other research has shown chocolate's health benefits include a modest reduction in blood pressure and cholesterol.
"It's my favorite vegetable," Dr. Golomb says. She explains that chocolate contains antioxidants like epicatechin, which other research has shown appears to boost the energy-producing elements of the body's cells."
That last bit is the most intriguing one for athletes, and in terms of performance, it leads us to think that reaching for a chocolate GU or PowerBar may be the way to go when choosing our sports nutrition.
Photos: Fine Chocolate Association