Archive for the ‘Science’ Category

The ChocolateDoctor’s Prescription to Reduce Stress and Anxiety Naturally with Chocolate

Friday, January 17th, 2014
Ed Engoron, Co-Founder of Choclatique
Author of Ed Engoron’s Choclatique, Running Press, 2011

It’s the end of January—the holidays are behind us, yet the holiday bills lay before you. Vacations are over, the back-to-work grind is wearing on your patience, and two weeks into the New Year you’ve already failed on your resolutions, whatever they might be.

Sound familiar? There’s a reason these are the most depressing days of the year.

Here’s the solution? Eat more chocolate. I’m not kidding. There’s no better food to connect the dots between mind and body than the deliciously emotional, palpably physical response we all have to eating pure chocolate,” writes Will Cower, PhD, neurophysiologist, neuroscientist, and nutritionist in his new book, Eat Chocolate, Lose Weight. As gimmicky as it might sound, eating chocolate might be the best natural remedy for anxiety you’re not using and science has shown that it goes beyond the mere mood –elevating buzz you get from gobbling up a Crunch bar on the way home from work.

Cortisol and Cocoa
You’ve seen those awful weight-loss commercials. The part that is true is that stress prompts your body to produce cortisol. Research has shown that heavier women have higher levels of cortisol than women of normal weight. Cortisol also triggers the accumulation of abdominal, or visceral, fat, which builds up around your organs and can contribute to depression, along with heart disease and stroke.

In a 2009 study it was reported that people who ate about an ounce of chocolate a day for two weeks saw decreases in cortisol in their systems compared to its levels at the start of the study. Another study a year later showed that, over the course of 30 days, people who ate cocoa daily had 10 percent lower levels of anxiety and considered themselves 10 percent calmer than they had been at the start of the study.

The key to success is prevention, not reaction. Studies finding that chocolate has a positive impact on mood and anxiety all looked at consumption over the course of 30 days, while studies looking at people who consume chocolate in response to stress found those people generally feel as depressed after their chocolate fix as they did before it. They experience a short “mood elevation” that lasts about three minutes, and then disappears. That’s just about long enough to reach for another chocolate bar.

Eat Chocolate and Lose Weight
There are over 300 positive chemical compounds in chocolate. Eating chocolate over time allows one’s body to build up levels of cocoa’s polyphenols, which are responsible for regulating stress hormones. The cocoa polyphenols don’t immediately boost mood, satisfaction, calmness or contentedness. This happens only when chocolate is eaten slowly and steadily over a period of time. In other words, a patient chocolate eater is a happy chocolate eater.

Eat It Right
You won’t reap the mood-boosting benefits of chocolate by reaching for that bag full of fun-size caramels and nougats, or even by eating a chocolate bar a day. If you want chocolate to truly make a difference and leave you happy and less stressed, your approach to eating it needs to be a little more nuanced.

Dark vs. Milk
Dark chocolate is less stressful than milk chocolate, for lots of reasons. Milk chocolate is loaded with sugar and other additives, while also being devoid of most of cocoa’s healthier components. The milk in milk chocolate tends to blocks the body’s absorption of the antidepressant antioxidants. Studies analyzing the healthfulness of chocolate rely on dark chocolates with at least 70 percent cacao or even unsweetened 100-percent cocoa powder. Functional chocolates such as Choclatique Q-91 or Choclatique Elephant Chocolate (76%) are perfect for this need.

Eat Small Amounts
Once you find a chocolate you like, take it in small doses. To battle stress and anxiety—take one ounce a day for at least eight weeks. But divide that one ounce into five portions a day. That will be roughly the size of the end joint on your thumb. Stick with an ounce a day. There isn’t any evidence that eating more is a benefit that will make you feel even better.

Eat It Slowly
Don’t chew, or even suck on, your chocolate pieces. Savor the flavor by letting the chocolate sit on your tongue and melt slowly. The added time you spend slowly tasting your chocolate is time you’re not popping more into your mouth. The flavor lingers and your brain thinks you’re eating the entire time so you’re less likely to overindulge.

Choclatique Dark Chocolates are low in sugar and high in cocoa mass. They are slowly-roasted all the way through. There in no “green” left in the bean. This leaves a very pleasant, fruity flavor in your mouth with cherry, berry, and fruit wine notes—it is never bitter or brittle. Even Choclatique Midnight Unsweetened Chocolate (100% cacao), used primary for baking and cooking, has a tolerable flavor. But, if you’re not into dark chocolates, try using cocoa powder like Choclatique Natura Unsweetened Cocoa Powder. About half cup, or eight tablespoons, of 100 percent unsweetened cocoa powder will give you the same nutrients and mood lift as the one ounce of dark chocolate a day. Add a few tablespoons of cocoa powder to your morning oatmeal, use a few teaspoons in your favorite vinaigrette, or cook with it. Avoid “Dutch” cocoa, which has been heavily processed which loses many of the benefits you are looking for.

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Health Benefit Detected In White Chocolate

Friday, January 18th, 2013

Ed Engoron, Co-Founder of Choclatique
Author of Ed Engoron’s Choclatique, Running Press, 2011

White Chocolate BlockI am always surprised at how many five and ten pound blocks of white chocolate we sell at Choclatique. Of course, I think our Snowy White Chocolate is the best white chocolate in the marketplace and I have to suppose that many of our customers feel that way too based upon our sales history.

Cardiovascular HealthOver the last several years independent studies have proven dark chocolate has heart, skin and even brain health benefits which are linked to the flavanol content. Dark chocolate can even reduce the growth of caries which cause tooth decay. White chocolate, which does not contain the beneficial flavanols found in dark chocolate still provides cardiovascular benefits, which researchers at Molecular Nutrition & Food Research have reported. The study found benefits in dark, milk and white chocolate, and found improved platelet function among men who consumed both the white and the dark chocolate. However, women seem to have better results with dark chocolate only.

For the last several years the research on the benefits relating to chocolate has grown. Montezuma must have known that not only was chocolate a great aphrodisiac, but the Holy Grail when it comes to health. Always do as the ChocolateDoctor recommends: Take two truffles and call me in the morning.

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Dark Chocolate Lowers Risks of Heart Attack, Stroke

Friday, October 5th, 2012

Ed Engoron, Co-Founder of Choclatique
Author of Ed Engoron’s Choclatique, Running Press, 2011

AustraliaThe research keeps coming in and getting better on the health benefits of dark chocolate. Researchers in Australia collected data over 2,000 people who had metabolic syndrome—which is a cluster of medical issues that includes high blood pressure, a large waist and low levels of “good” cholesterol—and used mathematical equations to predict how eating a dose of dark chocolate daily could affect the number of strokes and heart attacks the group would be expected to have. And they found that eating dark chocolate every day may lower the risk of having a heart attack or stroke for people at higher risk of these conditions.

Based on their results, the researchers calculated that for every 10,000 people with metabolic syndrome who ate 3.5 ounces (100g) of dark chocolate every day for 10 years, 70 non-fatal and 15 fatal cardiovascular events, such as heart attacks or strokes, could be prevented.

Heart HealthIn the past studies have shown that the risk of cardiovascular disease can be lowered over the short-term by eating compounds called flavonoids, which are abundant in dark chocolate. Flavonoids are known to have antihypertensive and anti-inflammatory effects, which relieve pressures on the heart.

The new study suggests that eating dark chocolate is a cost-efficient way to reduce the number of heart attacks and strokes. The researchers noted that the study only looked at strokes and heart attacks, so how dark chocolate might affect the risks of other cardiovascular diseases, such as heart failure, must still be assessed.

Sanofi AventisThe study was published on May 31st 2001 in the British Medical Journal, and was funded by the Australian Research Council and the drug company Sanofi-Aventis Australia.

Q-91ChefSecret: Let people with higher risk of heart attack or stroke know that adding dark chocolate, like Choclatique Q-91, to their daily diet may reduce health-related risks.

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5 Things You Didn’t Know About Chocolate

Thursday, June 21st, 2012

Ed Engoron, Co-Founder of Choclatique
Author of Ed Engoron’s Choclatique, Running Press, 2011

If you’re like most women, you’re totally smitten with chocolate. People have been obsessing over this comfort food for thousands of years (the Mayans considered cacao a cure-all and the Aztecs used it as money). And all that obsessing has yielded some pretty surprising studies–and findings. Here are five things you need to know about your favorite indulgence.

sprinter

1. It Can Boost Your Workout
Skip the expensive sports drinks and protein shakes. Research shows chocolate milk is just as effective a recovery aid.

A study published in the journal Applied Physiology, Nutrition, and Metabolism compared the effects of a recovery drink and chocolate milk on endurance athletes’ ability to recover after a series of bike sprints followed by an endurance ride the next day. They found that chocolate milk was just as effective at relieving muscle soreness after the sprints, and preparing the athletes to perform in the endurance test the next day. Better yet, everyone preferred the taste of chocolate milk.

pms

2. Your Period Doesn’t Make You Crave It
Half of American women experience chocolate cravings. Of those who do, about half crave it right around “that” time of the month.

And while it’s nice to have your menstrual cycle to blame when you find yourself noshing on half a package of chocolate chip cookies, researchers at the University of Pennsylvania found that menstrual hormones aren’t the culprit. They compared the cravings of pre- and post-menopausal women and didn’t find any change. They did, however, find a higher prevalence of cravings among women who suffer from PMS.

Why? Annmarie Kostyk, a chocolate expert who studied at the Professional School of Chocolate Arts, Ecole Chocolat, in Canada, says this has a lot to do with the psychology behind comfort foods. “Chocolate is sociologically considered a comfort food, and people crave comfort foods when they feel terrible,” she says.

time to wake up

3. It Won’t Wake You Up
It’s a common misconception that chocolate is packed with caffeine, says Kostyk. In reality, the amount of caffeine in chocolate is miniscule compared to what’s in your other daily pick-me-ups.

An ounce of dark chocolate contains about 20 milligrams of caffeine, while an ounce of milk chocolate contains about 5 milligrams–the same as an 8-ounce cup of decaf coffee. In comparison, a cup of coffee contains about 100 milligrams and a cup of tea contains about 50 milligrams of caffeine.

4. It Contains Flavonoids
Flavowhats? Flavonoids are a type of phytochemical, or plant chemical, that are found naturally in chocolate. Due to their unique chemical structures, flavonoids can exert antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and cell-protective effects, says Giana Angelo, Ph.D., a research associate who specializes in micronutrient research at the Linus Pauling Institute at Oregon State University. Consuming foods rich in flavonoids has also been associated with a reduced risk of heart disease.

To reap the benefits, stick to dark chocolate. The average commercial dark chocolate contains about 60 percent cocao and has been found to contain 536 milligrams of flavonoids per 1.4-ounce serving. Research has shown that as few as 80 milligrams of flavonoids a day can lower blood pressure.

theobromine

5. It’s Not All Bad for Your Teeth
How could a food that’s long been touted as a cavity-causer actually have teeth-protecting properties? It turns out that theobromine, an organic molecule that occurs naturally in cocoa, can help strengthen tooth enamel, according to research from Tulane University.

In fact, it takes 142 times less cocao extract to have about twice the protective benefits of fluoride, according to the American Dental Association. Unfortunately, theobromine isn’t too beneficial in chocolate bars, where the sugar and milk counteract the dental benefits. Enter Theodent, a fluoride-free mint toothpaste that packs a punch of theobromine.

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Does Eating Chocolate Help People Stay Thin?

Thursday, May 17th, 2012

Ed Engoron, Co-Founder of Choclatique
Author of Ed Engoron’s Choclatique, Running Press, 2011

Chocolate EaterAccording to a new study recently reported on a segment on CBS News, the best way to stay thin is exercising and eating a healthy diet full of chocolate.

The study found that people who frequently ate chocolate had a lower body mass index (BMI) than people who didn’t.

Archives of Internal MedicineThe study, published in the March 26 issue of Archives of Internal Medicine, researchers examined more than 1,000 healthy men and women who were free of heart disease, diabetes and cholesterol problems. They were all enrolled in another study that measured the effects of cholesterol-lowering statin drugs, but for this study researchers assigned them questionnaires that gauged how often participants indulged in chocolate.

ExerciseThe researchers found that the participants with an average age of 57 and ate chocolate on average twice per week and exercised roughly 3.5 times per week had an average BMI, while more frequent chocolate-eaters had smaller BMIs, a ratio of height and weight that’s used to measure obesity.

Even though chocolate can be loaded with calories from fat, it’s full of antioxidants and other ingredients that may promote weight loss, the researchers discovered.

Dr. Beatrice Golomb“I was pretty happy with this news myself,” study author Dr. Beatrice Golomb, associate professor of medicine at the University of California-San Diego, claimed that “Findings show the composition of calories, not just the number of them, matters for determining ultimate weight. Our findings – that more frequent chocolate intake is linked to lower BMI is intriguing,” the authors wrote. However, “It is not a siren call to go out and eat 20 pounds of chocolate a day.”

PeopleThis isn’t the first study to suggest a daily dose of chocolate can do the body good. Last summer, a study of more than 100,000 people found those who ate the most chocolate were 39 percent less likely to get heart disease and 29 percent less likely to have a stroke. Months later a 10-year study of 33,000 women found a 30 percent reduced risk of stroke among chocoholics.

However experts warn not all chocolate is created equal, and some could contain lots of sugar and calories, which could lead to other health issues if consumed to excess. “I would not want people reading this to think that all [they] need to do to lose weight is eat more chocolate,” Dr. David Katz, director of the Yale Prevention Research Center in New Haven, Conn., said, “That would be a huge mistake.” Katz suggests dark chocolate, because of its bitter flavor, may suppress appetite whereas sweet chocolate may stimulate it.

Q-91Choclatique Q-91 is our super-dark, bittersweet, premium chocolate high in cacao mass and rich in flavanols and antioxidants. One of the most pleasant effects of eating Q-91 chocolate is the “euphoric feeling” that many people experience after indulging.

As noted above recent medical research has linked the antioxidants found in cacao—the fruit from which chocolate is made—to decreases in blood pressure and reductions of “bad” cholesterol levels. Chocolate is a known stimulant and is also thought to be an aphrodisiac. Q-91 is low in sugar and rich in flavanols which many physicians and nutritionists say are beneficial to your health.

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Cocoa Flavanol Bring Even More Cardiovascular Benefits

Friday, February 3rd, 2012

Ed Engoron, Co-Founder of Choclatique
Author of Ed Engoron’s Choclatique, Running Press, 2011

Food of the GodsThere is so much more to learn about the food of the gods—CHOCOLATE. Some of the largest chocolate companies (Mars, Hershey, Nestle, Kraft) are working with independent researchers, private laboratories, universities and the USDA to unlock even more of the secrets of cacao.

MarsAccording to Mars, Inc.’s recent study of the health benefits of cocoa, we have now learned that cocoa flavanols’ cardiovascular benefits might be independent of any antioxidant properties. Absorption and metabolism play a significant role in how flavanols provide circulatory and cardiovascular benefits, while earlier research suggested flavanols exerted their benefits through an antioxidant mechanism.

Studies1This chocolate supplier’s study shows the extensive metabolism of epicatechin following consumption of a flavanol-containing cocoa drink. The company says that because in vitro studies using un-metabolized cocoa flavanols do not consider metabolism, they are not able to accurately reflect what is happening in the body.

Dr. Hagen Schroeter (University of California at Davis), the study’s author and director of fundamental health and nutrition research for Mars, explains: “The study provides a critical step towards a more complete understanding of flavanols and their benefits and, ultimately, towards the translation of this knowledge into innovative flavanol-rich food products and concrete health recommendations.”

Choclatique Drinking ChocolateMuch of these benefits can be derived from a cup of Choclatique chocolate a day. Choclatique makes 3 award-winning Chocolate Drinking MixesDark Chocolate, Cinnamon Chocolate and Peanut Butter Swirl. Each are blends of our select crushed dark chocolate and select cocoa powders for preparing rich, hot (and cold) chocolate beverages. Simply add your favorite Chocolate Drinking Mix to cold milk, whisk and heat for a steamy, cold-weather chocolate treat for a totally sinful chocolaty indulgence.

1The research has been published in the international journal Free Radical Biology and Medicine and at http://www.sciencedirect.com.

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Chocolate Buzz

Friday, December 9th, 2011

Ed Engoron, Co-Founder of Choclatique
Author of Ed Engoron’s Choclatique, Running Press, 2011

blood_pressureAs if anyone really needs more excuses to eat chocolate, the latest research indicates in even stronger terms that the long-term consumption of dark chocolate is associated with lower blood pressure. However, this doesn’t mean forgoing balanced meals for a chocolate-only diet.

It’s okay to eat a little chocolate daily. New research published in the Journal of the American Medical Association reports that a single square of chocolate a day can reduce blood pressure. Q-91 IngotThis is the first study to show the benefits of cocoa in dark chocolate over the long-term. Previous short-term studies have looked at the effects of cocoa on blood pressure, with encouraging results. However, there have been questions whether or not increasing chocolate intake over a long period of time would actually negate the blood pressure effects due to an increase in calories and fat. We suggest one of our new special squares of Choclatique Q-91 as the perfect way to enjoy chocolate and still get the great benefit of the dark stuff.

Remember: Dark chocolate trumps milk and white chocolate. Participants of the recent study were given a 30-calorie square of chocolate (one group received white chocolate, the other group received dark chocolate) over the course of 18 weeks. There were no significant changes in weight, lipids or blood glucose in the dark chocolate group. But participants did experience a decrease in blood pressure. The participants in the white chocolate did not show the same results.

Elephant ChocolatesDon’t be tempted overindulge in dark chocolate. Regardless of the heart-healthy benefits of dark chocolate, experts still caution that you don’t overindulge. One, pre-measured, individually-wrapped square of Choclatique Q-91 or one piece of Choclatique Elephant Chocolate a day is all you need to achieve the desired health benefits. Any additional chocolate falls into the indulgence category which is great for a chocolaty reward.

Our functional chocolates may be considered a healthy candy, but as with any dietary supplement, be sure to check with your doctor if you are pregnant, breastfeeding or have a health condition requiring nutritional care.

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People Who Like Sweets Have Sweeter Personalities

Friday, October 21st, 2011

Ed Engoron, Co-Founder of Choclatique
Author of Ed Engoron’s Choclatique, Running Press, 2011

SweetsBeing a consumer of sweets I was thrilled to see a study prove that my fantastic “sweet” disposition can be directly attributed to Choclatique Chocolate. RIGHT?

Well, here’s the “skinny” on “sweets.” There was a recent study based on experiments with college kids that found people who like sweets are friendlier and more likely to help someone in need than people who prefer spicy or bitter foods. The results suggest there is a robust link between sweet tastes and pro-social behavior. Okay, I know it might seem like a giant, sugar-coated overgeneralization to say that people with sweet dispositions also really like sweets, but new studies are giving some weight to the idea.

A Series of StudiesFive studies converged on this idea. Study 1 revealed that people believed strangers who liked sweet foods (e.g., candy) were also higher in agreeableness. Studies 2 and 3 showed that individual differences in the preference for sweet foods predicted pro-social personalities, pro-social intentions and pro-social behaviors. Studies 4 and 5 used experimental designs and showed that momentarily savoring a sweet food (vs. a non-sweet food or no food) increased participants’ self-reports of agreeableness and helping behavior. The results reveal that an embodied metaphor approach provides a complementary but unique perspective to traditional trait views of personality.

Happy PeopleThe summary of the findings were published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, show that people who like sweets are also more likely to be agreeable, friendly and compassionate than people who prefer other tastes, like bitter or spicy foods. Researchers also found that people given sweet foods were more likely to help someone in need afterward, compared with people who don’t eat anything or people who eat a bland food.

“Such findings reveal that metaphors can lead to unique and provocative predictions about people’s behaviors and personality traits,” says study researcher Michael D. Robinson, of North Dakota State University. The findings were based from a series of experiments involving college students.

Slim WaistlineOh, by the way, another study published earlier this year also shows that there seems to be an association between having a sweet tooth and having a slim waist (though that study was admittedly funded by the National Confectioners Association and certainly nothing that fits my waistline), but researchers said that’s likely because they exercise more to compensate for the extra calories.

Okay, here it comes, the shameless plug for my new adventure cookbook. If you’re interested in learning more about chocolate, its affects on the human body and improving your disposition, buy my new book—Choclatique—150 Simply Elegant Desserts. It is sprinkled with QR Codes (Quick Response Codes)… those funny little Rorschach squares you see popping up seemingly everywhere these days. When scanned by a smart phone they take you to a video of the ChefSecret that is at the end of many of the recipes. This is the first time that this technology has been available to be used in the publishing of a cookbook.

And, lastly and most important, the recipes make luscious tasting desserts perfectly the first time and every time there after. It is a foolproof guide to making all of your favorite desserts and improving your sweet disposition and those all around you.

CHOCLATIQUE by Ed Engoron ––––––––––––––– Full-Color Throughout 256 pages • 8 x 10 $27.00 /$31.50 CAN /£14.99 UK ISBN 978-0-7624-3964-5 • Available now on the Choclatique Website and in Book Stores

CHOCLATIQUE by Ed Engoron
Full-Color Throughout 256 pages • 8 x 10 $27.00 /$31.50 CAN /£14.99 UK ISBN 978-0-7624-3964-5 • hc Available on the Choclatique Website and Book Stores, September, 2011

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CHOCOLATE: The Psychoactive Cocktail

Friday, September 9th, 2011

Ed Engoron, Co-Founder of Choclatique
Author of Ed Engoron’s Choclatique, Running Press, 2011

Choclatique by Ed EngoronLast week I shared with you many of the facts and myths, past and present, about everything chocolate. These were carefully researched during the exploration phase of writing my new book Choclatique (Running Press, 2011). Hopefully you’ve already had a chance to impress many of your friends with the facts that could win you big money when playing Trivial Pursuit.

Chemical CompoundsAs noted last week, there are more than 300 different constituent compounds in chocolate that have been identified. Chocolate clearly delivers far more than a brief sugar high. Yet its cocktail of psychochemical effects on the central nervous system are poorly understood.

So how does it work?

  • Chocolate contains small quantities of anandamide, an endogenous cannabinoid found in the brain. Skeptics claim one would need to consume several pounds of chocolate to gain any very noticeable psychoactive effects; and eat a lot more to get fully stoned. Yet it’s worth noting that N-oleolethanolamine and N-linoleoylethanolamine, two structural cousins of anandamide present in chocolate, both inhibit the metabolism of anandamide. It has been speculated that they promote and prolong the feeling of well-being induced by anandamide.
  • CoffeeChocolate contains caffeine. But the caffeine is present only in modest quantities. It is easily obtained from other sources. Indeed a whole ounce of milk chocolate contains no more caffeine than a typical cup of “decaffeinated” coffee.

Cough MedicineChocolate’s theobromine content may contribute to—but seems unlikely to determine—its subtle but distinctive psychoactive profile. Surprisingly, perhaps, recent research suggests that pure theobromine may be superior to opiates as a cough medicine due to its action on the vagus nerve.

  • Chocolate also contains tryptophan. Tryptophan is an essential amino acid. It is the rate-limiting step in the production of the mood-modulating neurotransmitter serotonin. Enhanced serotonin function typically diminishes anxiety. Yet tryptophan can normally be obtained from other sources as well; and only an unusually low-protein, high-carbohydrate meal will significantly increase its rate of intake into the brain.
  • Love CollectionLike other palatable sweet foods, consumption of chocolate triggers the release of endorphins, the body’s endogenous opiates. Enhanced endorphin-release reduces the chocolate-eater’s sensitivity to pain. Endorphins probably contribute to the warm inner glow induced in susceptible chocoholics. This sensation explains why chocolate gifts are a great way to bring joy to a loved one.
  • Acute monthly cravings for chocolate amongst pre-menstrual women may be partly explained by its rich magnesium content. Magnesium deficiency exacerbates PMT. Before menstruation, too, levels of the hormone progesterone are high. Progesterone promotes fat storage, preventing its use as fuel; elevated pre-menstrual levels of progesterone may cause a periodic craving for fatty foods. One study reported that 91% of chocolate-cravings associated with the menstrual cycle occurred between ovulation and the start of menstruation. Chocolate cravings are admitted by 15% of men and around 40% of women. Cravings are usually most intense in the late afternoon and early evening.
  • Cacao and chocolate bars contain a group of neuroactive alkaloids known as tetrahydro-beta-carbolines. Tetrahydro-beta-carbolines are also found in beer, wine and liquor; they have been linked to alcoholism. But the possible role of these chemicals in chocolate addiction remains unclear.
  • A UK study of the human electroencephalographic (EEG) response to chocolate suggests that the odor of chocolate significantly reduces theta activity in the brain. Reduced theta activity is associated with enhanced relaxation.
  • LovePerhaps chocolate’s key ingredient is its phenylethylamine (PEA) “love-chemical.” Yet the role of the “chocolate amphetamine” is disputed. Most, if not all chocolate-derived phenylethylamine is metabolised before it reaches the CNS. Some people may be sensitive to its effects in very small quantities.
  • BrainPhenylethylamine is itself a naturally occurring trace amine in the brain. Phenylethylamine releases dopamine in the mesolimbic pleasure-centers; it peaks during orgasm. Taken in unnaturally high doses, phenylethylamine can produce stereotyped behavior more prominently even than amphetamine. Phenylethylamine has distinct binding sites but no specific neurons. It helps mediate feelings of attraction, excitement, giddiness, apprehension and euphoria; but confusingly, phenylethylamine has also been described as an endogenous anxiogen. One of its metabolites is unusually high in subjects with paranoid schizophrenia.
  • There is even a phenylethylamine theory of depression. Monoamine oxidase type-B has been described as phenylethylaminase; and taking a selective MAO-B inhibitor, such as selegiline (l-deprenyl, Eldepryl) or rasagiline (Azilect) can accentuate chocolate’s effects. Some subjects report that bupropion (Wellbutrin, Zyban) reduces their chocolate-cravings; but other chocoholicsPrescription Pad dispute this.

I hope you took good notes and got all because there’s going to be a pop quiz next period. You didn’t get all? Then there’s only one solution. Take if from the doctor—The ChocolateDoctor—take two truffles and call me in the morning.

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In Trivial Pursuit Of Chocolate

Friday, September 2nd, 2011

Ed Engoron, Co-Founder of Choclatique
Author of Ed Engoron’s Choclatique, Running Press, 2011

In writing my new book, Choclatique (Running Press, 2011), a lot of exploration went into searching out the facts and myths, past and present, about everything chocolate. I traveled to over one hundred, thirty countries to uncover all of the hidden secrets about chocolate. Since I was limited to only three hundred pages a lot of good research went on to the editor’s floor. That’s the great part about writing a weekly blog and doing a FoodCast on A Million Cooks, nothing ever goes to waste.

I always choose the chocolate category when playing Trivial Pursuit and I always win. So here’s a chance to improve your Chocolate IQ. Let me share with you the little know and uncelebrated facts that will make you a winner, too.

  • Chocolate is a psychoactive food. If it wasn’t an ancient food, it would probably be regulated or rationed by the US FDA.
  • Devil's Food CakeChocolate is made from the seeds of the tropical cacao tree, Theobroma cacao. The cacao tree was named by the 17th century Swedish naturalist, Linnaeus. The Greek term theobroma means literally “food of the gods.” Chocolate has also been called the food of the devil; but the theological basis of this claim is obscure unless you’re addicted to Devil’s Food Cake.
  • Aztec WarriorsCacao beans were used by the ancient Aztecs to prepare a hot, frothy beverage with stimulant and restorative properties. Chocolate itself was reserved for warriors, nobility and priests. The Aztecs esteemed its reputed ability to confer wisdom and vitality. Taken fermented as a drink, chocolate was also used in religious ceremonies. The sacred concoction was associated with Xochiquetzal, the goddess of fertility. Emperor Montezuma allegedly drank fifty goblets a day.
  • Aztec taxation was levied in cacao beans. One hundred cacao beans could buy a slave. Twelve cacao beans bought the services of courtesan. I wish I could pay my taxes and bills. If our economy doesn’t improve quickly I may have to in Choclatique Chocolate Ingots.
  • The celebrated Italian libertine Giacomo Casanova (1725-1798) took chocolate before bedding his conquests on account of chocolate’s reputation as an aphrodisiac. Who needs Viagra when there’s Choclatique Chocolate?
  • More recently, a study of eight thousand male Harvard graduates showed that chocoholics lived longer than abstainers. Their longevity may be explained by the high polyphenol levels in chocolate. Polyphenols reduce the oxidation of low-density lipoproteins and thereby protect against heart disease. Such theories are still somewhat speculative, but it’s still a good excuse to eat Choclatique Chocolate.
  • Happy Old ManPlacebo-controlled test trials suggest chocolate consumption may subtly enhance cognitive performance. As reported by Dr Bryan Raudenbush (2006), scores for verbal and visual memory are raised by eating chocolate. Impulse-control and reaction-time are also improved. Send an old person Choclatique Chocolate today… right now… what are you waiting for? Don’t tell me you forgot.
  • A “symposium” at the 2007 American Association for the Advancement of Science—hyped as a potentially “mind-altering experience”—presented evidence that chocolate consumption can be good for the brain. Experiments with chocolate-fed mice suggest that flavanol-rich cocoa stimulates neurovascular activity, enhancing memory and alertness. I think chocolate should be on the Medicare formulary list.
  • Coincidentally or otherwise, many of the world’s oldest super centenarians, e.g. Jeanne Calment (1875-1997) and Sarah Knauss (1880-1999), were passionately fond of chocolate. Jeanne Calment habitually ate two pounds of chocolate per week until her physician induced her to give up sweets at the age of 119 – three years before her death aged 122. Life-extensionists are best advised to eat dark chocolate like Choclatique Q-91 rather than the kinds of calorie-rich confectionery popular in the US.
  • Pot BrowniesIn the UK, chocolate bars laced with cannabis are popular with many victims of multiple sclerosis. This treatment of psychoactive confectionery remains unlicensed. Yeah man, what the hell, it’s cool in California… anything goes.
  • Rodolphe LindtChocolate as we know it today dates to the inspired addition of triglyceride cocoa butter by Swiss confectioner Rodolphe Lindt in 1879. The advantage of a butter is that its addition to chocolate sets a bar so that it will readily snap and then melt on the tongue. Cocoa butter begins to soften at around 75º F; it melts at around 97º F. I wonder if anyone ever tried to inject it.
  • Today, chocolates of every description are legal, unscheduled and readily available over the counter. Don’t tell Congress they’ll screw this up, too.
  • Chocolate WomanSome 50% of women reportedly claim to prefer chocolate to sex, though this response may depend on the attributes of the interviewer. Oh, that explains it all.
  • In 2007, a UK study suggested that eating dark chocolate was more rewarding than passionate kissing. More research is needed to replicate this result. I’m waiting, Ladies. I’m still waiting.
  • More than 300 different constituent compounds in chocolate have been identified. Chocolate clearly delivers far more than a brief sugar high. Yet it’s cocktail of psychochemical effects in the central nervous system are poorly understood.

So how does it work? That is the subject of next week exciting Choclatique blog.

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