Chocolate, we know, is good for us. But even the fatty, sticky, sugary sort?

Yes, apparently! According to Beatrice A. Golomb, MD, PhD, associate professor of medicine at the University of California, San Diego, and her colleagues, who detailed their findings in a research letter published in the March 26 issue of the Archives of Internal Medicine.

A recent study showed that frequent chocolate consumption was associated with lower body mass index (BMI), even when adjusting for calorie intake, saturated fat intake, and mood.

The authors used data from 1018 patients already being screened for inclusion in a widely sampling clinical study evaluating noncardiac effects of statin medications. Of the 1018 participants, 1017 answered the question, “How many times a week do you consume chocolate?” BMI was calculated for 972 participants (95.6%); and 975 (95.8%) answered the validated Fred Hutchinson Food Frequency Questionnaire.

The relationship between chocolate consumption frequency and BMI (body mass index) was calculated in unadjusted models, and again in models adjusted for age and sex, and in models adjusted for activity, saturated fats, and mood.

Oddly, although chocolate consumption frequency was associated with lower BMI, the amount of chocolate consumed was not!

“The connection of higher chocolate consumption frequency to lower BMI is opposite to associations presumed based on calories alone,” said the researchers, “But concordant with a growing body of literature suggesting that the character — as well as the quantity — of calories has an impact on metabolic syndrome (early diabesity).

They further explain that, as chocolate products are frequently high in sugar and fat, they are often assumed to contribute to an increased BMI. The authors note that this may still be true in some cases.

What they found was something I lectured about, over 25 years ago: the composition of diet is as important as the calories and often more so.

If this idea intrigues you, see this page: inflammatory and dangerous foods

[SOURCE: Arch Int Med. 2012;172:519-523]