box of chocolatesIt's mid-afternoon, people. Do you know what that means? It's the witching hour when you start hunting around for something to satisfy that sweet chocolate tooth. Now, I know, I know, apparently there are people out there who don't care about chocolate and would much rather go for a bag of Doritos or some such, but to that I say, Nonsense! How could you not prefer a chocolate bar, chocolate cake, chocolate cookies, brownies, chocolate cupcakes ... sigh. Plus, now, here is proof that there's a bonus to being on Team Chocolate: We win in the weight department!

New research from The Archives of Internal Medicine showed that of 1,000 subjects studied, those who ate chocolate a few times a week (vs. less often) were on average slimmer than those who only ate it occasionally. Okay, I know what you're thinking. This is one of those studies funded by a candy company or Willy Wonka himself, right?

But NO!

Researchers from the University of California at San Diego legitimately found that even though chocolate is loaded with calories, it contains ingredients that may favor weight loss rather than fat synthesis. Those magical ingredients? Antioxidant compounds, called catechins, which the researchers say improve lean muscle mass and reduce weight. Go figure, huh?!

More from The Stir: Let Us Eat Cake for Breakfast and Watch Us Lose Weight!

Obviously, it's not an excuse to go all Augustus Gloop and jump in a chocolate river, but it should make us feel less guilty about the occasional indulgence in antioxidant-packed dark chocolate. While the study didn't say this explicitly, I strongly believe that avoiding self-deprivation helps people keep their weight in check. And enjoying a little chocolate here and there is one totally delicious way to do that!

Do you buy this study? How often do you indulge in chocolate?

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