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Eating chocolate might be good for your health, depending on when you eat it, study says

Samples of Taza stone ground, Mexican-stye dark chocolate from the Taza Chocolate Factory Tour in Somerville.
Samples of Taza stone ground, Mexican-stye dark chocolate from the Taza Chocolate Factory Tour in Somerville.Kayana Szymczak

Anyone who’s ever been scolded by their elders for eating candy in the morning may now have reason to rejoice.

A new study from researchers at Brigham and Women’s Hospital suggests that eating a “concentrated amount” of chocolate every morning could actually help people burn fat, the hospital said.

The study was led by Dr. Frank A. J. L. Scheer, a neuroscientist, and Dr. Marta Garaulet, a visiting scientist, the statement said. Both researchers work in the hospital’s Division of Sleep and Circadian Disorders in the departments of medicine and neurology, according to the statement.

The study, published in The FASEB Journal, was conducted in collaboration with researchers at the University of Murcia in Spain, the statement said, and involved a “randomized, controlled, cross-over trial of 19 postmenopausal women.”

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The women, the statement said, consumed “100g of chocolate” either within an hour of waking up in the morning or during the hour before bedtime at night. The study found that morning or nighttime chocolate intake didn’t lead to weight gain, and also that a high intake of chocolate during the morning hours could help burn fat and reduce blood glucose levels.

“Our findings highlight that not only ‘what’ but also ‘when’ we eat can impact physiological mechanisms involved in the regulation of body weight,” Scheer said.

Garaulet, in a brief phone interview, said consuming high amounts of chocolate in the morning could result in people “not craving ... chocolate or other sweets for the rest of the day.”

And, she noted in the Brigham statement, “Our volunteers did not gain weight despite increasing caloric intake.

“Our results show that chocolate reduced ad libitum energy intake, consistent with the observed reduction in hunger, appetite and the desire for sweets shown in previous studies.”

Chocolate’s been on the radar of public health specialists for a while.

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A 2012 study from researchers at the University of California-San Diego that involved more than 1,000 volunteers compared chocolate consumption with body mass index — a measure of height and weight — and found that those who consumed chocolate the most frequently had a lower BMI on average than those who consumed it the least.

Lead author Dr. Beatrice Golomb told the Globe at the time that she considers chocolate a plant food because, besides milk and sugar, it consists primarily of chocolate and cocoa butter made from the cocoa bean.


Travis Andersen can be reached at travis.andersen@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @TAGlobe.