People who consume moderate amounts of chocolate on regular basis are tend to have lower body mass index (BMI) than those who eat less often, according to a study conducted by University of California.

The report states that healthy people who exercise and also eat chocolate regularly will weigh less than those who eat the rich sweets occasionally.

The new study, published as a research letter in the Archives of Internal Medicine, has surveyed more than 1, 000 healthy men and women, who exercised 3.6 times a week on an average.

The BMI of the people who ate chocolate five times a week was a point lower than those who did not eat it frequently, the study said.

According to the researchers, it is the composition of calories, not just the number of chocolates that matters for determining ultimate weight.

The researchers further said that the antioxidants or other chemicals in cocoa could lead to various health benefits including lower blood pressure and cholesterol, in addition to decreased body weight.

Chocolate comprises compounds which could increase the number of mitochondria and increase production of small blood vessels that help in delivery of oxygen and nutrients, which may further help metabolism, the report said.

University of California-San Diego associate professor Beatrice Golomb said cocoa contains antioxidants called flavonoids in high amounts, which help fight inflammation, lower blood pressure and improve overall vascular function.

The antioxidants also affect metabolism and improve insulin sensitivity, which can be associated with hypertension and obesity, Golomd added.

A past study, conducted on more than 100,000 people, found that those who ate dark chocolate on a regular basis lowered their relative risk of heart disease by one-third.