Chocolate Obsession

My love of chocolate has been life-long. I can't think of another taste or texture that brings forth the level of desire or satisfaction that a rich velvety piece of chocolate slowly melting in my mouth can produce. The pure pleasure of chocolate has been reason enough for a lifelong indulgence. My naturally high cholesterol has tried to dissuade me from my love, but has alas failed. I long ago made a conscious decision that a life without chocolate would not be worth eating. I looked for ways that I could have my chocolate without tempting the fates. Frozen yogurt and ice cream were my favorites. It was pretty painless to stay away from the high-fat varieties with so many flavors of chocolate ice cream around. That was until I was introduced to truffles. First I tried Lindt truffles, then the french ones from Trader Joes. There was simply no substitute for this type of euphoria. Well, maybe one. Now they have found their way into my freezer, where they are available at whim. If I want a treat I simply walk into the kitchen. This could be dangerous.

Now the hunt was on for rationalizations. There must be something good about chocolate that will make up for the danger to my cholesterol. With a little research on my part, I came up with a few good ones. According to the University of California "The cocoa butter in chocolate does contain saturated fat, which can increase blood cholesterol levels, and high cholesterol can contribute to heart disease. However, recent research at the University of California, Davis, has found that chocolate carries high levels of chemicals known as phenolics, some of which may help lower the risk of heart disease. Plants such as chocolate, coffee, tea and others contain high levels of antioxidant phenolics." (Exploratorium Magazine) "Chocolate is also a rich source of magnesium and phosphorus and, contrary to popular belief, chocolate contains only a limited amount of caffeine. An average chocolate contains about 10 mg of caffeine, while one cup of coffee contains 100 mg." (Yale-New Haven Hospital) If you add nuts to the chocolate, it ups the nutritional value even more. What more of an excuse does one need?

But wait, there's more: Two studies -- one by the Pennsylvania School of Medicine and another by the U.S. Naval Academy -- showed that eating chocolate (or not eating it) neither causes nor aggravates acne. (Exploratorium Magazine)

And on another note, it has been suggested that "serotonin and other chemicals found in chocolate, most notably phenethylamine, can act as mild sexual stimulants. Chocolate intake has been linked with release of serotonin in the brain, which is thought to produce feelings of pleasure."(Wikipedia) What could be bad about that?

However, if none of these reasons are good enough, how about the fact that chocolate has been used as a sacred symbol in religious ceremonies? Plus, medicinal remedies featuring chocolate have been used as household curatives across the globe." ( For example, chocolate beans contain amino acids, many of which have been shown to have an antidepressant effect.(Planetbotanic)

Now these are all good reasons to continue a love affair with chocolate. But it really just comes down to one thing. Life is full of trade-offs. There is no reason even a high-cholesterol person cannot enjoy an occasional chocolate obsession, as long as it fits into a basically healthy lifestyle. If chocolate is what gives you pleasure then find a way to fit it into your life with the least possible adverse effects. I think for me Ill have to remove them from my freezer and make real chocolate more of a treat. However, a low-fat chocolate ice cream cone will never be out of reach.

Alissa Lane
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