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Chocolate Health and Nutrition

Chocolate first became famous in Europe in the 1600s. In a scant few centuries, it has become an item of addiction for many. What is the nutrition of this south American bean? Is it good for you? Not good?

Chocolate has phenylethylamine in it - a substance the brain releases when it's happy. Some believe that eating chocolate therefore makes you happy :) You get more phenylethylamine from cheddar cheese and salami - so put those on your list!

Chocolate also has antioxidants in it - like red wine. So chocolate can help keep the free radicals in your system at a minimum.

Chocolate is known to have substantial levels of lead in it. It's not that the bean itself has lead - but the manufacturing process introduces it. Rates up to .7ug/g have been found. Even small amounts of lead can impair brain function.

Even 65% dark chocolate still has a lot of sugar in it. You get a whopping 35g of carbs for a single bar - PLUS 28g of fat (of which 16g are saturated fats). This just isn't good for you.

In 2007 there was a tiny study of 22 males involving chocolate and gut bacteria. They checked 11 men who loved chocolate vs 11 men who didn't care about chocolate and found they had different bacteria in their stomachs. Some scientists said this proved that the bacteria "caused" the men to want chocolate. Others said that men who ate a lot of chocolate would probably end up with colonies of chocolate-loving bacteria living in their gut. Since the average human has tens of trillions of bacteria in their system, it makes sense.

Now I certainly love chocolate! I have sugar-free chocolate chips that I put on top of treats sometimes. I am all for shavings to give you that hint of flavor. The key is not to overload on large doses on milk chocolate - full of excess sugar and fat. If you're going to eat chocolate, then get some very high quality chocolate - of the darkest cocoa content. Shave it fine - or cut it into small pieces - so that you get the maximum flavor from each one.

But go easy on it. The benefits you get from chocolate, you can get from other items - and the bad parts are fairly substantial.

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