Chocolate triggers my migraine so doctors have told me to take it in moderation, if at all. My gym trainer of course prohibits my eating of chocolate. I asked if I could eat on Sundays and she just smiled. Well she doesn't have to know, right?
In defense of one of the two drugs I can't live without (coffee is the other one), I did a little research on the healthful benefits of chocolate and found several helpful articles. I'm quoting USA Weekend Magazine:
Source of good antioxidants
Chocolate contains the same type of disease-fighting "phenolic" chemicals as red wine and fruits and vegetables, says Andrew Waterhouse of the University of California at Davis.
He found 205 milligrams of phenolics in a 1.5 ounce chocolate bar -- that's about the same as in a 5-ounce glass of cabernet. Two tablespoons of cocoa powder has 145mg of phenolics. Dark chocolate has the most; white chocolate has none.
These antioxidant phenolics combat cell damage leading to chronic disease such as cancer and heart disease. New Japanese tests show that phenolics extracted from chocolate suppressed cell-damaging chemicals and boosted immune functioning in human blood samples.
Boosts brain chemicals
More Americans crave chocolate than any other food. Some explanations: chocolate's "melt-in-the mouth" consistency and mood-lifting chemicals such as caffeine and theobromine. And when mixed with sugar and fat, chocolate appears to boost "feel-good" chemicals in the brain (endorphins and serotonin), thus promoting euphoria and calm. Some women use chocolate candy to "self-medicate" for premenstrual syndrome, studies have found.
Also, researchers at the Neurosciences Institute in San Diego recently found that chocolate contains anandamide, a chemical that mimics marijuana's soothing effects on the brain.
Helps lactose intolerance
Chocolate makes milk easier to digest if you are lactose-intolerant. Researchers at the University of Rhode Island found that adding 1 1/2 teaspoons of cocoa to 1 cup of milk blocked cramping, bloating and other signs of lactose intolerance in half of 35 subjects. Cocoa stimulates lactase enzyme activity, they found.
Doesn't raise cholesterol
Surprisingly, the fat in chocolate (cocoa butter) does not raise cholesterol -- at least in men with normal cholesterol (under 200). When the men went on a month-long binge of cocoa butter or pure chocolate (equivalent to seven chocolate bars a day) their cholesterol did not rise. But it soared 18 points when they pigged out on butter.
Doesn't cause acne
Giving up chocolate won't cure acne or pimples, according to a famous test at the University of Pennsylvania. In the test, 65 acne-plagued adolescents ate the amount of chocolate in 1 pound of bittersweet chocolate a day for a month. For another month, they ate a dummy chocolate bar. Their acne was no worse on the real chocolate than on the fake chocolate.
Doesn't cause most headaches
Contrary to popular belief, chocolate is not a common trigger of headaches, says Dawn Marcus, of the University of Pittsburgh. In recent tightly controlled tests, she gave disguised chocolate (similar to a commercial candy bar) and carob (fake chocolate) to 63 women plagued by tension headaches, migraines or both. Half did not develop headaches within 12 hours of eating either. In the others, carob was just as apt to cause a headache as the chocolate.
No link to hyperactivity
Some contend that eating chocolate (or sugar) causes hyperactivity, aggression or other behavior problems, notably in children. But several scientific studies have found no evidence of that. In fact, some research finds sweets calm many children.
Chocolate's greatest crime is that it usually is combined with animal fats, dangerous trans-fats and sugar in high-calorie, bad-fat baked goods. Plus, it:
Can cause heartburn
Chocolate is a common culprit in heartburn, according to tests by Donald O. Castell, M.D., of the University of Pennsylvania. The reason: Chocolate contains concentrations of theobromine, which relaxes the esophageal sphincter muscle, letting stomach acid squirt up into the esophagus. If you suffer from heartburn, he advises, go easy on chocolate.
Does contain caffeine
Most people have no negative reaction to small amounts of caffeine.
I could justify all I want but if I get a migraine and waste my hours at the gym, it's my fault anyway. For the taste of it, I may sometimes give in and happily suffer and endure the consequences.