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Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Dark Fancies

Box of chocolates

The most seductive metaphor for eating pleasure - whether it is to woo a new lover or cherish an old one, people like to say it with chocolate for Valentine's Day.

Here are ten facts about the deluxe sweet:

  1. On account of chocolate’s reputation as a subtle aphrodisiac, the 18th-century Italian libertine Giacomo Casanova always indulged in some before bedding his conquests. An amino acid contained in chocolate called phenylethylamine stimulates desire, as well as reproducing the same reaction in the body as falling in love.
  2. The word "chocolate" comes from the Nahuatl language of the Aztecs of Mexico. The word is derived from the Nahuatl word xocolatl, which is a combination of the words, xocolli, meaning "bitter", and atl, which is "water".
  3. For women: scientists have long known that a deficiency in magnesium exacerbates PMT. Chocolate is rich in magnesium, which may explain those monthly chocolate cravings; it’s also a muscle relaxant and can help reduce stomach cramps.
  4. Harvard’s School of Public Health found that people who consumed chocolate up to three times a month lived a year longer than those who never indulged. Their longevity may be explained by the high polyphenol levels in chocolate, which reduces the oxidation of low-density proteins thereby protecting against heart disease.
  5. Chocolate contains calcium, iron, vitamins A, B, C, D and E and traces of zinc, copper and phenols which protect against heart disease and boost the immune system.
  6. Chocolate actually has a greater anti-oxidant capacity than some fruit and vegetables. Dark chocolate especially has a large number of detoxing ingredients and has been suggested by researchers to carry more health benefits than the milk variety.
  7. You would have to eat 12 chocolate bars to get the same amount of caffeine as one cup of caffeinated coffee.
  8. Not only does chocolate contain few of the fermentable carbohydrates that cause tooth decay when left on the teeth, but researchers in Japan have found that the part of the cocoa bean from which chocolate is made has an anti-bacterial content that could actually protect against tooth cavities.
  9. A single chocolate chip gives you enough energy to walk 150 feet.
  10. On the most depressing day of the year, 22 January, people in the UK were urged to take chocolate to work to stay happy.

For more about chocolate also see: In the Headlines: The Sweetest Week

Read more Valentine's Day posts >>

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