Go ahead, indulge.
Teens who eat a lot of chocolate tend to have lower levels of total and abdominal fat, according to a new study in the journal Nutrition.
The findings are based on data from 1,458 youths ages 12 to 17, who were part of the Healthy Lifestyle in Europe by Nutrition in Adolescence study, which examines lifestyle habits among youths in nine countries in Europe.
Researchers from the University of Granada found an association between higher consumption of chocolate, and lower levels of total and abdominal fat (as measured through body fat percentage, body mass index and waist circumference).
Plus, the chocolate consumption seemed to hold true independently of other potential factors, such as physical activity, fruit and vegetable consumption, saturated fat consumption, sex and energy intake.
'The fact that the results were consistent when using different markers of fatness such as BMI, body fat assessed by skinfold thickness, BIA [bioelectrical impedance analysis], and waist circumference further strengthens the study findings," they wrote in the study.
Even though chocolate contains sugar and fat, it is also high in flavonoids which have "important antioxidant, antithrombotic, anti-inflammatory and antihypertensive effects and can help prevent ischemic heart disease," study researcher Magdalena Cuenca-García explained in a statement.
However, researchers noted they did not have information on the type of chocolate consumed in the study. Dark chocolate is known to have an especially high concentration of flavonoids.
Even though this new study was only in teens, past research has shown chocolate could have positive effects on weight for adults, too. A study published last year in the journal Archives of Internal Medicine showed that body mass index is lower among adults who consume chocolate frequently, compared with those who don't eat it that often.