Yes, recently conducted studies published in the American Journal
of Clinical Nutrition have shown that a dose of dark chocolate
will heed all sorts of healthy results. And with the holidays
just around the corner, this news couldn’t have come at a
So just for fun, I thought I’d conduct a mini-research project
of my own and get the “skinny” on our friend dark chocolate.
Here’s some of the interesting “factoids” I came up with:
•Cocoa—the precursor to chocolate–has been around a
long time. A few thousand years, in fact. It has been thought
that cocoa beans were brought to Europe in the 1500’s by
•Cocoa, later made into chocolate, was given to American
Soldiers in WWII. A source of high energy, each solider was given
a three chocolate bar per day ration, according to historical
•Researchers started getting more involved when studies
began showing that in addition to being a high energy food,
chocolate also seems to stimulate elevated moods. Researchers
found truth to this, showing that dark chocolate does, in fact,
increase levels of the mood-altering chemicals such as serotonin
•Some researchers have also gone on to conduct major
studies to prove the correlation between chocolate and a true
physiological craving. (Check out “Why Women Need Chocolate,”
written by Debra Waterhouse, Registered Dietician in 1999).
•And, the best news yet. Upon further study, it has been
found that the “flavonoids” in dark chocolate are scientifically
proven to act as antioxidants, preventing “bad” cholesterol (LDL)
in the blood from oxidizing and clogging arteries.
So, if you are looking for a healthy way to “cheat” this holiday
season, dark chocolate may not be all together a bad option.
Facts aside, however, and before you run out to fill your shopping
cart full, keep these guidelines in mind:
•Heed the advice of Aristotle: “Everything in moderation.”
Refrain from taking the “chocolate factory tour.” Keep your
chocolate fix to a minimum. Enjoy it, but please don’t over do.
•When you are shopping for chocolate, try to find “dark”
varieties with at least 70% cocoa.
•Also, make sure “sugar” or “butter fat” are not the first
If you’d like to skip the treat and not the fun, send a virtual
chocolate postcard from this fun chocolate website (no calories
included) : http://www.virtualchocolate.com/index.cfm
To summarize my findings, it appears that dark chocolate is in
fact our friend (and we will just leave its aphrodisiac qualities
to your own private discussion groups, thanks).
As for the cravings….Well, do we really “need” chocolate?
Survey says: Dunno. But, with the holidays upon us, a Hershey’s
Special Dark Chocolate once in a while—now available in the
“sugar free” variety, mind you–sounds sweet enough to me.