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Posted Aug 24 2008 9:45pm

I love chocolate!! I mean that I really, really love chocolate, so I decided to find out a little bit more about the the good and the bad to know what I was up against. Life without chocolate for me would be dark indeed so I am glad to see that there are some terrific benefits.

Chocolate Pros

**If you eat chocolate, only eat dark chocolate -Dark chocolate has many beneficial polyphenolic bioflavanoids that have powerful antioxidant properties, which can actually help to protect you from damaging oxidative stress. (This is good news- definitely cheers me up a bit)

**Chocolate contains the same type of disease-fighting "phenolic" chemicals as red wine and fruits and vegetables, says Andrew Waterhouse of the University of California at Davis.

** Boosts brain chemicals More Americans crave chocolate than any other food . Some explanations: chocolate's "melt-in-the mouth" consistency and mood-lifting chemicals such as caffeine and theobromine . And when mixed with sugar and fat, chocolate appears to boost "feel-good" chemicals in the brain (endorphins and serotonin), thus promoting euphoria and calm. Some women use chocolate candy to "self-medicate" for premenstrual syndrome, studies have found.

** Doesn't cause acne. Giving up chocolate won't cure acne or pimples, according to a famous test at the University of Pennsylvania. In the test, 65 acne-plagued adolescents ate the amount of chocolate in 1 pound of bittersweet chocolate a day for a month. For another month, they ate a dummy chocolate bar. Their acne was no worse on the real chocolate than on the fake chocolate.

** Helps lactose intolerance .Chocolate makes milk easier to digest if you are lactose-intolerant. Researchers at the University of Rhode Island found that adding 1 1/2 teaspoons of cocoa to 1 cup of milk blocked cramping, bloating and other signs of lactose intolerance in half of 35 subjects. Cocoa stimulates lactase enzyme activity, they found.

**Also, researchers at the Neurosciences Institute in San Diego recently found that chocolate contains anandamide , a chemical that mimics marijuana's soothing effects on the brain.

**Tests show chocolate contains antibacterial compounds that may discourage, not promote, tooth decay.

** No link to hyperactivity -Some contend that eating chocolate (or sugar) causes hyperactivity, aggression or other behavior problems, notably in children. But several scientific studies have found no evidence of that. In fact, some research finds sweets calm many children.

** Tastes really, really good!

Chocolate Cons

**Chocolate's greatest crime is that it usually is combined with animal fats, dangerous trans-fats and sugar in high-calorie, bad-fat baked goods.

** Can cause heartburn. Chocolate is a common culprit in heartburn, according to tests by Donald O. Castell , M.D., of the University of Pennsylvania. The reason: Chocolate contains concentrations of theobromine , which relaxes the esophageal sphincter muscle, letting stomach acid squirt up into the esophagus. If you suffer from heartburn, he advises, go easy on chocolate.

** Does contain caffeine. Most people have no negative reaction to small amounts of caffeine. If you're sensitive, you should know how chocolate stacks up with caffeine sources:

5 oz. brewed coffee has

85mg caffeine

5 oz. loose tea or 1 tea bag, 30mg

6 oz. cola, 18mg

1 oz. chocolate candy, 6mg

5 oz. cocoa or hot chocolate, 4mg

6 oz. chocolate milk, 4mg

Fun Fact

The average American eats almost 12 pounds of chocolate a year. World chocolate consumption rises 3 percent a year, while cocoa bean production rises just 1.5 percent. To avert an eventual shortage, growers are working to increase production.



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