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Diet Diva

Get advice on healthy eating, nutrition, and weight loss from expert dietitian Tara Gidus. 

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Chocolate Amore!

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I love, love, love chocolate! Are you with me? If you read this blog, you know I'm a big movie buff and the film Chocolat (with the amazing Johnny Depp) is one of my very favorites. Like the main character Vianne Rocher, I believe chocolate is enchanting and magical. In fact, as recently as the last century, cacao beans were still used as currency in some parts of Central America (hmmm, getting paid in chocolate would have its advantages…). If you're a history buff (or chocoholic), you may know that Christopher Columbus was the first European to encounter the beloved cocao tree in 1502, but chocolate consumption dates as far back as 500 A.D. (or earlier).

Mayans consumed a frothy unsweetened cocoa drink made with water and spices (including vanilla and chili pepper), which they believed to cure digestive problems and act as an aphrodisiac. Europeans quickly replaced chili pepper with sugar and chocolate became a luxury few could afford. Today of course, chocolate is everywhere, but should you steer clear? No way!

Contrary to popular belief, it doesn't cause acne, and the caffeine content is fairly low (about 20 mg per ounce of dark chocolate compared to 100-150 mg in a cup of joe). In fact, chocolate is a good-for-you food. It contains over 300 natural substances including a "feel good" chemical (nope, it's not just in your head), and others that have been shown to help blood vessels relax (lowering blood pressure), and prevent cholesterol from sticking to your arteries (reducing the risk of heart attack and stroke). And finally, chocolate contains the minerals magnesium, iron, zinc, and copper. So, go ahead, indulge a little (in moderation of course), without the side of guilt. Choose high quality dark chocolate, let it melt in your mouth, and savor every itty bitty bit!

For more info on chocolate's health benefits, check out this link:
http://www.americanheart.org/presenter.jhtml?identifier=3032194

P.S. Try adding a little vanilla and chili pepper to your hot cocoa or chocolate fondue some time – it's fantastic!
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About the Author


MS, RD, CSSD, LD/N

Tara Gidus is a nationally recognized expert and spokesperson on nutrition and fitness.

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