• Hal Decker

Lets Talk CHOCOLATE


It's one of the most popular sweets of all time. Women crave it, men hoard it, and Aztec kings were said to have been the first to eat it. But why do we love chocolate so much? Following are just a few reasons why chocolate is so popular--and why you shouldn't give it up completely, even if you're on a diet!

1-It melts in your mouth - Chocolate contains fat--that's no surprise. The cocoa butter in chocolate gives it a rich, creamy consistency that also transmits the cocoa's flavor perfectly. It also has a melting point that's just a bit lower than the average human body temperature, which gives you that melt-in-your-mouth feeling every time you pop a piece of chocolate in your mouth. Chocolate lovers often describe this melting feeling as a true moment of ecstasy.

2-Just the right chemistry - According to a study done at the University of Michigan, chocolate contains chemicals called opioids. Opioids are also found in opium, and they serve to dull pain and give a feeling of well-being to people who ingest them. According to the study, people who eat chocolate produce natural opiates in their brains that soothe their nerves and make them feel good. When the receptors that detected opioids were blocked, that chocolate craving was lessened. Chocolate also naturally contains "uppers" like caffeine, sugars, and phenylethylamine, which will make your heart pound a little harder, your breathing come a bit more quickly, and give you a feeling of alertness. The effect is not dramatic enough to be uncomfortable in most people; it's mild enough to produce a pleasant "high," which is often equated to the feeling of being in love.

3-Chocolate equals love - Speaking of love, the association might not be completely physiological. Women crave chocolate more often than men do. Women are also habitually given chocolate as birthday and Valentine's Day presents. In our culture, chocolate is thought of as a romantic gift. It's outside the realm of mundane, day-to-day food, reserved for special occasions--and, for women especially, it's associated with love and romance. That could be another reason why women particularly love chocolate: deep down, it makes them feel loved, cared for, and pampered.

4-It is really good for you - Recent studies suggest that chocolate--especially dark chocolate--contains chemicals that lower the risk of cancer and heart disease. Flavonoids and antioxidants in dark chocolate have been shown to make a difference in cardiovascular health. Until recently, tea was considered the main source for these chemicals. Now, scientists recommend that you have a chocolate cookie or biscuit with your tea so your body gets more of those life-lengthening chemicals. Don't have milk with your dark chocolate, however--the same studies show that milk can cancel out the healthful effects of eating chocolate by preventing those helpful chemicals from being fully absorbed in the body. Chocolate does contain fats and sugars that you shouldn't eat a great deal of--but as long as you eat it in moderation, the science suggests you can add as much as a year to your life.

5-It's great for your sex life - Ever since the time of the Aztecs, people have believed that chocolate has aphrodisiac properties. But there may be some deeper truth to those old legends. Recent studies have shown that women who eat a little bit of chocolate a day have significantly more sex than women who don't. This could be because of those brain-soothing chemicals that are found in chocolate, and that chocolate encourages the brain to release more of as it's eaten. Chocolate just makes us feel good--which is a key ingredient for a healthy sex life.

It's important to remember not to overindulge in chocolate. It does contain high amounts of saturated fats and sugars that can cause health damage and obesity if you take in too much. However, when eaten in moderate quantities, chocolate truly can be a miracle food. Even better, it tastes wonderful--it is hard to find anyone who doesn't like some kind of chocolate, whether it's white, dark, or milk, Hershey or Belgian. So, the next time you have to give up something for Lent or take up a new diet, think twice before giving up chocolate. It not only tastes good--its health benefits give you a great excuse to keep on enjoying it.


Chocolate-walnut brownies recipe