Good news for anyone with an insatiable sweet tooth: it seems that indulging in a little candy won’t hurt you — and might possibly even be good for you. A recent study examining the relationship between candy intake and health found that despite consuming more calories, participants who consumed sweets actually weighed less, had a lower BMIs and smaller waist circumference than people who abstain from candy. Further, eating chocolate was associated with higher HDL (or “good”) cholesterol and a lower risk of high blood pressure and metabolic syndrome.
Does this mean you can go hog wild at the office treat dish? Not quite. The study was not without flaws. First, the researchers only looked at one day of each participant’s diet. So some of the people who were classified as candy eaters may have happened to have candy on the day they were surveyed but do not make a habit of consuming the sweet stuff. The study also relied on self-reporting of candy intake, which is often inaccurate.
The average candy-eating participant reported eating just 9 grams — that’s the equivalent of about 10 jellybeans or 12 M&Ms. So if you’re going to indulge your sweet craving, it’s best to limit yourself to a small handful. Although dark chocolate has been found to have potential health benefits, remember that most candy is just empty calories. But looking on the bright side, this study suggests that a little bit of chocolate won’t sabotage your diet or your health.