Written by 5:13 am Editor’s Notes

Forget love, fall in chocolate

For the true chocoholic, just thinking about chocolate can be relaxing. International Chocolate Day, is an annual celebration of chocolate, marked globally on July 7.

Some of us celebrate it daily.

I enjoy eating chocolate to the fullest – the excitement of unwrapping a nice candy bar filled with nuts (some believe that nuts in a chocolate bar is a waste of space, but not me) breaking it into chunks and enjoying each moment while that creamy stuff vanishes down my throat.

No fruit flavoured chocolates for me though…it reminds me of Mum trying to turn the worst junk food in the world healthy, by adding fruits and veggies into it. Pure chocolate has to be sinful – loaded with calories. So enjoy it to the full and next time you accidentally mention exercise, scour your mouth with chocolate syrup.

I am such a self confessed chocolate addict that the sight of a cocoa tree gives me a thrill. Dozens of yellow-green pods hang from the trunk and stems of that tree. I cannot even resist the fibrous white pulp inside the fruit.

Watching the movie Chocolat was exciting too. Each time Vianne Rocher melted chocolate in her chocolaterie, I had a drool of spit by my feet. Whoever said, “Put “eat chocolate” at the top of your list of things to do today; that way, at least you’ll get one thing done”, sure knows what he/she is talking about.

History tells us that the spread of the cocoa tree and the cocoa started during the age of Colonialism. Christopher Columbus was the first European to come in contact with cocoa. The Aztecs used the cocoa bean as a unit of currency.

Now that sounds like fun. I could relate with getting paid in chocolates if I lived in the olden times. Sell me a farm and I pay you in chocolates, eh? It is reported that Napoleon carried chocolate with him on his military campaigns and ate it for a quick energy boost. I cannot blame him.

The good news for chocoholics is that that most of the bad effects of eating chocolate are overstated. Eating chocolate neither causes nor aggravates acne.

Apparently two studies were conducted (I swear that I am not lying) – one by the Pennsylvania School of Medicine and another by the US Naval Academy – that showed that eating chocolate (or not eating it) did not produce any significant changes in the acne conditions of the study’s participants.

Chocolate also cannot by itself cause cavities or tooth decay. In fact the cocoa butter in the chocolate coats the teeth and may help protect them by preventing plaque formation. The sugar in chocolate does contribute to cavities, but no more than the sugar in any other food. The idea is – if you eat a sugary meal and do not brush well, you could get a cavity. Poor chocolate does not have to get all the blame.

In case you decide to over-indulge following my advice, keep in mind that the cocoa butter in chocolate does contain saturated fat, which can increase blood cholesterol levels, which can contribute to heart disease.

However, recent research done at the University of California has found that chocolate contains lots of phenolics, some of which may help lower the risk of heart disease. That’s the kind of news that I love to hear…

According to Google, chocolate – may improve blood flow and lower blood pressure, raise HDL and protect LDL from oxidation, may reduce heart disease risk, may protect your skin from the sun, could improve brain function – I agree, Google – you ARE our resident doctor; less focus on the model verbs may, could etc.

White chocolate lovers would be interested to know that it is made from cocoa butter, which is the fat extract from crushed and roasted cocoa beans. Cocoa butter makes a sensuous massage cream. But I do not buy it, in case I feel the need for sustenance and try a taste.

Hear this – chocolate can be lethal to dogs. Theobromine, an ingredient that stimulates the cardiac muscle and the central nervous system could make chocolate toxic to pups. About two ounces of milk chocolate can be poisonous to a 10-pound puppy. But in my house, no puppy is getting a taste of it, so that’s no worry.

One gross fact – the sole time that I have associated the word “gross” with chocolates was when I heard that chocolate syrup was used for blood in the famous shower scene in Alfred Hitchcock’s movie, “Psycho”. Eeeewww.

By Linda Joseph Kavalackal,
Christ & Co.

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