All About Chocolate.
Chocolate and your Health.

    Chocolate and health may seem like an oxymoron. However, chocolate may be a lot better for your health than you ever thought. This may not be news to those of us who have been happily consuming chocolate all of our lives. Actually, for hundreds of years chocolate has been thought to be a healthful food.

There are some scientific reasons why chocolate makes us feel good and is good for us. To begin with, the main factors of sugar, fat, and carbohydrate provide a boost of energy. Then there is chocolate's seductive mouth feel, the result of cocoa butter, which melts at close to body temperature. Also, chocolate contains theobromine, caffeine, phenylethylamine (PEA), and anandamide that add to its appeal. These chemical substances have a profound effect on the brain and demonstrate that chocolate has a definite physiological effect on the body.

Theobromine and caffeine are both stimulants. Phenylethylamine is a chemical that our brain releases when we fall in love. It also acts as an anti-depressant by combining with dopamine that is naturally present in the brain.

Anandamide helps to stimulate and open synapses in the brain that allow "feel good" waves to transmit more easily. These are the same brain receptors that respond to the psychoactive ingredients in marijuana and hashish. But one would have to ingest more than twenty-five pounds of chocolate at one sitting to get "high" in the same way. Anandamide was discovered by a scientist in 1992. He named it after the Sanskrit word ananda, which means bliss.

Two other factors that also fit into the picture are serotonin and endorphins. These have been talked about often in the context of exercise, but they are important here. Serotonin is a chemical in the brain that is released after eating carbohydrates. It is a neurotransmitter that communicates a feeling of calm to the brain and helps to stabilize moods. Endorphins are another chemical that act to send high levels of energy and feelings of euphoria to the brain. In addition, endorphins have been shown to be effective painkillers, much like morphine.

Both serotonin and endorphins are released when chocolate is eaten and, in turn, bring on a sense of well-being. If all of this is not enough, chocolate also contains magnesium, which helps the body manufacture serotonin, that all-important calming brain chemical. Chocolate also contains vitamins Al, Bl, B2, C, D, and E, as well as calcium, potassium, sodium, and iron.

These chemical components present in chocolate may explain why some people crave chocolate more than others and certainly why we reach for chocolate when we're depressed. Interestingly, it's dark chocolate and milk chocolate that contain these compounds. They are absent from white chocolate, which contains cocoa butter, but no cocoa liquor.

There's even more good news about chocolate. Although cocoa butter is a fat, it is derived from plant matter, so it contains no cholesterol. The fat in cocoa butter is steatic acid, which is a unique fatty acid that reacts differently than most fats and does not raise blood cholesterol levels. Also the phenols present in chocolate act as antioxidants, which inhibit oxygen from combining with other substances, most noticeably fat. So eating chocolate can block the bad effect that fats have on the body.

Some people are worried about the amount of caffeine in chocolate. As it turns out, there are only between five and ten milligrams of caffeine in one ounce of dark chocolate and only five milligrams in milk chocolate, the same as a cup of decaffeinated coffee. One cup of regular coffee contains between 100 and 150 milligrams of caffeine. Quite a difference.

Chocolate gets blamed for some health problems, but in reality the truth is otherwise. Chocolate does not cause acne. In fact, dermatologists have determined that diet has little to do with acne. Chocolate does not cause tooth decay, either. Cocoa contains substances that may inhibit the growth of bacteria that converts sugar into polysaccharides, which cause tooth decay. As long as the chocolate consumed is not too sugary and sticky, it will not harm the teeth. Studies have shown that chocolate causes less harm to teeth than other foods with the same amount of sugar.

Chocolate is not physically addictive, even though some people crave it. It tastes divine, which is reason enough to want to eat chocolate regularly. Even though you may think of yourself as a chocoholic, your body will not experience withdrawal if you stop eating chocolate.

On the other hand, headaches may be caused by the phenylethylamine (PEA) in chocolate because it dilates blood vessels in the brain, which can trigger migraines. But some cheeses and red wine contain the same substance. Chocolate can also promote heartburn by causing a backup of acids from the stomach into the esophagus.

on the Web.


All About Chocolate



A Swiss Chocolate maker.


A Greek Chocolate maker.

The Story Of Chocolate

This page is in Greek.

The Virtual Chocolate Web Site

The online chocoholics heaven.


Chocolate can be found all over the Web. Some sites are primarily informational, others allow you to order chocolate, and some have recipes. Many sites are rather spectacular with a lot of pictures, while others are mostly text.

I have selected what I consider to be the most important chocolate sites on the Web. These are sites that have been on the web for a while and have a good deal of educational information as well as product information. Included are chocolate manufacturers, chocolate confectioners, associations and clubs, and a few personal sites.

The World Wide Web is always in transition, so if you get a dead end from any of the Web sites listed below, my apologies. In addition, the World Wide Web growing very, very rapidly and new sites are springing up daily.

Happy Surfing !

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