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The Health Benefits of Chocolate

With the New Year come and gone, many of us are making
good on a resolution to eat healthier. So whatís a
chocolate lover to do?

Good news. Research says you can have your cake and
eat it, too. As long as that cake is chocolate.

For centuries, chocolate has been used to treat diseases
and maladies such as depression. Civilizations from
Mexico to Europe have hailed chocolate as an aphrodisiac.
The U.S. government officially recognized its virtues in
World War II, making the chocolate candy bar standard
issue for the military.

Chocolateís scientific name, theobroma cacao, is literally
translated as "food of the gods," and we chocolate cravers
donít need any studies to tell us the power of chocolate
in mood alteration. Its feel good chemicals have long been
associated with feelings of love, safety, and comfort.
Maybe thatís why Americans eat an average of 12 pounds
of chocolate per year.

Chocolate contains vitamins A, B1, C, D, and E, as well
as potassium, sodium, iron, and fluorine. Now, researchers
say those creamy chocolate confections may actually help
us live longer, too.

Harvard researchers tracked nearly 8,000 males, with an
average age of 65. Those men who enjoyed chocolate and
candy lived almost a year longer than those who did not.
Those who ate one to three candy bars per month had a 36
percent lower risk of death (compared to the people who
ate no candy), while those who ate three or more candy
bars per week had a 16 percent lower risk.

Why? The researchers say they donít know for sure, but
that it might have something to do with antioxidants.
Chocolate contains the same antioxidant chemicals as
wine (phenols). In the chocolate bar, phenols help
preserve the fat. In our bodies, phenol can help
prevent atherosclerosis.

Like anything, chocolate is best enjoyed in moderation.
Just one ounce of solid chocolate packs about 150 calories
and can be as much as 50 percent fat. So, for your next
chocolate fix, consider reduced fat alternatives, such
as chocolate covered foods or chocolate syrup.

About the Author

Susie Cortright is the author of several books for women
and founder of the award-winning Momscape.com, a website designed
to help busy women find balance. Visit http://www.momscape.com today
and get Susie's *free* course-by-email "6 Days to Less Stress" as
well as the *free* pdf ebook, "Spa Recipes for All Seasons."

Susie Cortright