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American's Love Affair With Chocolate
You slowly unwrap a chocolate bar. Your mouth starts watering in anticipation. You place the piece of chocolate on your tongue as your eyes close. It begins to melt, giving your mind and body a wonderful sensation. Chocolate has the power to captivate like no other food.
Chocolate cravers need not fear death by chocolate. Chocolate cravers and chocoholics will be pleased to learn that there is a place for it in healthy eating patterns.
Chocolate's scientific name is Theobroma cacao ~ food of the gods. Studies show that Americans consumed over 3 billion pounds of chocolate which totaled $15 billion in sales last year. Americans spent $1.09 billion on chocolate this Valentine's Day. More than 36 million heart-shaped boxes of chocolate were sold this year for Valentine's Day.
*71% of North American chocolate eaters prefer milk chocolate.
*22% of all chocolate consumption takes place between 8 pm and midnight.
*More chocolate is consumed in the winter than any other season.
*Today, Americans eat an average of 12 pounds of chocolate per person per year.
Recent studies have shown that cocoa or dark chocolate has potent health benefits for people. Dark chocolate is full of flavonoids and garlic acid, which are antioxidants that help protect blood vessels, promote cardiac health, and prevent cancer. It also has been effectively demonstrated to counteract mild hypertension. In fact, dark chocolate has more flavonoids than any other antioxidant-rich food such as red wine, green and black teas and blueberries.
This great news does not give us a license to consume as much dark chocolate as we'd like. Chocolate is also a calorie-rich food, with a high content of saturated fat, so daily intake of chocolate also requires reducing caloric intake of other foods. There is currently no established serving size of chocolate to reap the benefits. However, what is known is that you no longer need to feel guilty while enjoying a little bit of heaven.
How easily it seduces. How readily we succumb. A glimpse, a sniff, a flash of pleasures past, and all resistance melts ... we reach for another piece of chocolate.
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