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Wednesday, September 9, 2009
America Loves Chocolate
We send and receive chocolate during the holidays, birthdays, and special occasions. We eat chocolate at parties and celebrations. And, no matter how full we are, we always make room for chocolate after dinner.
When we want to indulge, or “take a break,” we have a piece of chocolate. Chocolate seems to have a way of suddenly making us feel better. Certainly, there are no magical powers in chocolate, but the feeling we get when we consume even the smallest morsel is like no other.
Because chocolate is so delicious, many of us may feel guilt instead of enjoyment when consuming it. Why would we feel guilt when eating chocolate? Where does this guilt come?
Much of what we know about chocolate comes from hearsay, and is often times untrue.
Have you ever heard chocolate labeled as a "guilty pleasure?"
Do you know where that label comes from?
Contrary to popular belief, chocolate is considered a "guilty pleasure" because of the good feeling we get when we eat it, and has nothing to do with the nutritional contents.
Before you deny yourself of the food you truly enjoy, take some time to read and uncover some common myths about chocolate.
MYTH: CHOCOLATE IS FATTENING
Chocolate contains no more calories than yogurt. Chocolate contains no salt or cholesterol.
MYTH: CHOCOLATE CAUSES CAVITIES
Tooth decay happens when carbohydrates (both complex and simple) mix with natural bacteria in the mouth. Chocolate, which contains carbohydrates is no more or less responsible for tooth decay than other carbohydrate-containing foods like bread, raisins, crackers, and fruit. Chocolate actually contains a protein that blocks plaque. In fact, chocolate clears the mouth relatively quickly, reducing the time it spends in contact with the teeth.
MYTH: CHOCOLATE IS ADDICTIVE
Although you may love the taste of chocolate, you are not “addicted” to it. The truth is, chocolate is not an addictive food. The desire for sweet tasting foods is a strong biological drive that can be satisfied with any naturally sweet food or product made with sugar.
MYTH: THE SUGAR IN CHOCOLATE CAUSES HYPERACTIVITY IN CHILDREN
Contrary to popular belief, sugar does not cause hyperactivity in children. Recent studies conducted at Vanderbilt University and the University of Iowa College of Medicine found no evidence that sugar has an adverse effect on children’s behavior.
MYTH: CHOCOLATE CONTAINS A LOT OF CAFFEINE
Chocolate contains very little caffeine. A one-ounce piece of milk chocolate contains about the same amount of caffeine as a cup of decaffeinated coffee. There is an average of 6 mg. of caffeine in both an ounce of milk chocolate and a cup of decaf, while a cup of regular coffee contains between 65 - 150 mg. of caffeine.
Fun facts about chocolate
Traced back to ancient Mayan and Aztec civilizations, chocolate was first consumed as a spicy drink made from ground cocoa beans
Christopher Columbus was said to have brought the first cocoa beans back to Europe in the early 1500’s
During the 1600’s and 1700’s, chocolate grew in popularity and economic importance
Solid chocolate was created in Europe in the mid-1800’s, then in the 1870’s, Swiss manufacturers added milk, creating the first milk chocolate
A 1.65 oz. bar of chocolate contains only 12 mg. of cholesterol. A 1 oz. piece of cheddar cheese contains over 30 mg of cholesterol-more than double the amount!
Chocolate helps keep the arteries clean-it may even be more beneficial than red wine
An eight-week study found that eating a few ounces of chocolate a day lowered LDL cholesterol levels by 4%
A final word on chocolate
There are so many reasons to enjoy this mouth-watering treat. With its creamy texture, chocolate literally melts in our mouths, liquefying just above room temperature. Over the years, chocolate has come to symbolize love, affection, comfort, and joy. It is a delicious treat that we love to give and receive. Chocolate has been part of our culture for many years, and we are sure that tradition will continue for many years to come. Enjoy!
*Information and research taken from, “The Sweet Truth About Candy,” Chocolate Manufacturers Association and National Confectioners Association.