Archive for the ‘Health’ Category

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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Hey Ferd, Eat This!

Thursday, January 12th, 2012

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

cavemanHave you ever wondered who was the first cave person to ever consider eating an egg? “Hey Ferd, that funny looking bird just dropped something from his butt—let’s eat it!” Or the first person to try eating what they what they thought was bee poo and it tuned out to taste like honey. Ummmm!

Well I’ve got to think that chocolate—or more correctly call cacao—must have had a similar history. Here is all this stuff growing on a tree, “let’s break it open and eat it.” As it turns out mankind (and womankind) got it right and we are still discovering things about chocolate and the over 300 constituent elements that are so healthful for us.

So now we are learning that you might want to consider brushing your teeth with, guess what? Chocolate—yes, I said chocolate. Who came up with this idea to make brushing your teeth just a little sweeter?

brushingNew Orleans based Theodent has launched a toothpaste that uses compounds found in chocolate to strengthen teeth. The toothpaste uses a propriety blend, Rennou, which contains an extract of chocolate plus other minerals that work together to strengthen teeth. Rennou is used as a substitute for fluoride in Theodent’s toothpaste.

Theodent represents one of the major innovations in dental care in 100 years,” says Arman Sadeghpour, Theodent CEO. “I know that is a bold statement, but there are almost no other effective and non-toxic fluoride alternatives on the market.”

Rennou is the product of a team of New Orleans researchers who found that chocolate compounds caused microscopic unit crystals of the tooth enamel to grow larger, resulting in stronger teeth. According to Sadeghpour, Rennou actually gives teeth a harder surface than fluoride does and it’s completely non-toxic.

Though the compounds included in Rennou are related to stimulants at most this toothpaste might cause a “mild mood elevating effect” and it is “certainly not physiologically addictive” as caffeine is.

The compounds are not sweet either. The compounds in Rennou come from the bitter part of chocolate, but the toothpaste itself is not bitter and has been released in a whitening crystal mint flavor. According to the company the mint flavor is gentler than most brands and meant to encourage longer brushing.

Whole FoodsTheodent Classic is available for sale in some Whole Foods Markets in the US as well as in Canada and eventually will be available at other retailers at a suggested retail price of $9.99. In addition, Theodent 300, an extra strength version, will be marketed to select cosmetic dentists and medical professionals.

Q-91 WafersIf you want to make your heart smile as wide as your teeth then also consider Choclatique’s Q-91 or Elephant Chocolate. You see, it’s more than wishful thinking—chocolate can be good for you. Studies show that eating chocolate, primarily dark chocolate, may contribute to improved cardiovascular health. A source of natural flavanol antioxidants, dark chocolate and cocoa sit in the same good-for-you category as green tea and blueberries. That’s because chocolate comes from cacao beans (or cocoa beans), which grow on the cacao tree and are full of natural plant nutrients. Most of the studies to date highlight dark chocolate because it has the highest percentage of cocoa solids, therefore delivering more flavanol antioxidants.

Chocolate and Your Health Hand-In-Hand.

hand-in-handThe health benefits of high antioxidant foods have taken the scientific world—and the media—by storm. Recent studies suggest that the plant compounds, which act as antioxidants in foods, may reduce the risk of many kinds of illness, from heart disease to cancer. Antioxidants like those found in dark chocolate and cocoa, called flavanols have also been linked to some of the hallmarks of good cardiovascular health such as enhanced blood flow, healthy cholesterol levels and, in some cases, reduced blood pressure.

Dark chocolate and cocoa contain cell-protecting flavanol antioxidant compounds. Two tablespoons of natural cocoa have more antioxidant capacity than 3 1/2 cups of green tea, 3/4 cup of blueberries and 1 1/3 glasses of red wine. Next time, skip the Joe and go for the cocoa.

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Ring in the New Year with New Resolutions

Thursday, December 29th, 2011

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

January-1Ringing in the New Year has always been a time for reflection—looking back to the past, and more importantly, looking toward the coming year. Once again it’s time to reflect on the changes we want to make in our lives and resolve to follow through on those ideals.

Let’s see if any of your New Year’s Resolutions made my Top 12 List?

  1. Make Time For Fitness
  2. Eat properly—Lose Weight
  3. Get Enough Sleep
  4. Drink Less Booze
  5. Quit Smoking
  6. Reduce Stress
  7. Improve Finances
  8. Improve Your Career—Improve Your Education
  9. Don’t Be a Grump—Be Happy and Make Others Happy, Too
  10. Manage My Time
  11. Volunteer To Help Others
  12. Eat More Dark Chocolate

RockstarIt is interesting to note that the evidence is in for fitness. Regular exercise has been associated with more health benefits than anything else known to man. Studies show that it reduces the risk of some cancers, increases longevity, helps achieve and maintain weight loss, enhances mood, lowers blood pressure and even improves arthritis. In short, exercise keeps you healthy and makes you look and feel better and younger. Why not make this the time to start getting in shape?

New Years ResolutionOver 66 percent of adult Americans are considered overweight or obese, so it is not surprising to find that weight loss is one of the most popular New Year’s resolutions. Setting reasonable goals and staying focused are the two most important factors in sticking with a weight loss program, and the key to success for those millions of Americans who made a New Year’s commitment to shed extra pounds.

Sleep deprivation is one of the major causes of heart attacks, strokes, diabetes and obesity. Make sure that you allow yourself enough time to get the sleep you need to recharge your batteries and stay healthy and fit.

ChampagneNew Year’s Eve is always a great incentive to finally stop drinking or reduce the amount of liquor you consume. Going cold turkey is very difficult for the heavy drinker as most are not equipped to make such a drastic lifestyle change all at once; they do much better when they taper gradually, or even learn to moderate their drinking.

Smoking is a dirty, sticky habit! If you have resolved to make this the year that you stamp out your smoking habit, over-the-counter availability of nicotine replacement therapy now provides easier access to proven quit-smoking aids. Even if you’ve tried to quit before and failed, don’t let it get you down. On average, smokers try about four times before they quit for good. Start enjoying the rest of your smoke-free life!

StressStress kills; it’s as simple as that. Reduce your conflicts; restrict your debates to those that count. Not everything has to be a win-all situation. Get a massage, relax a little! You’ll feel so much better and so will the people around you.

Okay the economy stinks! You feel no one understands what you are going through, but that is not the case. Millions of Americans are going through a rough time and many of them are suffering for it. There are debt relief organizations that are willing to give a helping hand with little or no fees required.

Waldorf and StatlerSo you’re not in the 1% like you planned to be and you are carrying the weight of the world on your shoulders along with the majority of the nearly 300,000,000. It’s tough out there and we all know it. Take the time to say good morning, don’t forget to kiss your spouse each night and let your kids and coworkers know when they have done something right. Go out of your way to find someone in the act of doing the right thing. Put on that smile and be less grumpy.

Time is precious, learn to manage it and don’t let it manage you. Allow for a balance in your life—time for work, time for family and time for you.

New Years ResolutionsMake this the year that counts. If you’re considering a career change, want to learn a new language, or just how to fix your computer? Whether you take a course or read a book, you’ll find education to be one of the easiest, most motivating New Year’s resolutions to keep. Community Colleges offer a wide variety of “lifelong learning” courses, and local YMCA’s offer great recreational training for beginners of all ages. Most local colleges and universities offer distance and adult education programs. Or if the arts are more your thing, community museums and playhouses offer many adult studio classes.

Fulfill a non-selfish New Year’s resolution. Volunteerism can take many forms. Whether you choose to spend time helping out at your local library, mentoring a child, or building a house, there are many nonprofit volunteer organizations that could really use your help. Make an effort to visit returning veterans at your local VA hospital. They really need the company, especially around holiday times. They have given so much to our country. Or if your time is really in short supply, maybe you can donate furniture, clothing and other household items that you no longer need, rather than leaving them out by the curb to be discarded.

What does all this have to do with chocolate? All of the latest research shows in even the strongest terms that the long-term consumption of dark chocolate is associated with lower blood pressure, lower bad cholesterol, weight control, reduction of cavities and, in addition, is a wonderful, non-addictive mood elevator. Just match this list against my 12 Top 12 Resolutions and see how you can better achieve success in 2012.

If you’re interested in learning more about chocolate, its effects on the human body and improving your disposition, buy Choclatique—150 Simply Elegant Desserts. It is a great anytime gift and most importantly, the recipes make luscious tasting desserts perfectly the first time and every time thereafter. 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

All of us at Choclatique wish you and yours the very best of success in the New Year filled with sweet dreams and chocolate wishes.

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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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Michael Pollan Is A Putz

Thursday, November 10th, 2011

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

Now he says, “High-Fructose Corn Syrup Is Not Necessarily Worse Than Sugar.”

Michael PollanIn the past, when Michael Pollan talked about the food industry, people listened. You might know him as the author of In Defense of Food. Pollan used to wield a lot of influence among those who care about mindful eating, both in terms of health and sustainability, but as with all food terrorists he so exaggerated his unscientific and repeated condemnation of high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS) as particularly harmful has he lost his creditability. He had done great harm to the sweetener’s reputation over the past few years with his damaging remarks.

But now Pollan is changing his public stance on HFCS. He was asked about the dangers of HFCS in a recent interview with the Cleveland Plain-Dealer, and he flip-flopped on his past opinion.

High-Fructose Corn Syrup“I’ve done a lot to demonize it (HFCS),” he says. “And people took away the message that there was something intrinsically wrong with it. A lot of research says this isn’t the case. But there is a problem with how much total sugar we consume.” High-fructose corn syrup is cheaper than sugar, so it traditionally was pumped into a lot of foods, including savory items.

“It shows the brilliance of the industry, which is always a couple of steps ahead of me,” Pollan says. “They started giving products made of real sugar health claims and [are] trying to make sugar look good.” And that is a problem.

In the same interview, he cites both the demonization of high-fructose corn syrup and the craze for gluten-free products as examples of the faddishness of nutritional thinking.

As with all of these self-proclaimed experts, this guy doesn’t know which end is up. Both sugar and corn products are natural and sustainable and are easily grown right here in the United States keeping a lot of our farmers in business. Quite frankly, I think Pollan just likes to hear the sound of his own voice and the cash register ring when he sells his over-priced books.

Now, at Choclatique we don’t use a lot of corn syrups. We probably use as much rice syrup as the alternative. We do use Hawaiian-grown cane sugar as we like the taste and the functionality of what it does for our confections. I don’t own stock in Archer-Daniels-Midland, the largest provider of corn syrups. I don’t work for them nor consult with them so I have no ax to grind unless it’s with people of influence who, quite frankly, don’t really know what the hell they’re talking about.

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Is Chocolate Milk Good for Kids?

Thursday, October 27th, 2011

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

Chocolate Milk KidThe politically correct food police are out once again taking shots at providing chocolate milk in school cafeterias. So the question is; how dangerous is chocolate milk for our kids?

School officials and nutrition experts across the country are debating over whether to continue providing chocolate milk to kids in school. Of course, I would have thought the decision regarding children drinking chocolate milk was best made by parents. So here we are again debating, to drink or not to drink? That’s the hot-button question of experts across the country.

Jamie OliverThe debate over whether chocolate milk should be served in school cafeterias started all over again when the Los Angeles Unified School District announced it would ban chocolate- and strawberry-flavored milk from its schools starting the summer of 2011. Superintendent John Deasy pushed for the ban after being blind-sided by celebrity food activist Jamie Oliver, who said that flavored milk has as much sugar as a candy bar.

Low-Fat Chocolate MilkFairfax County, Virginia schools reintroduced chocolate milk this year after they and the DC schools banned it last year. The new, reformulated chocolate milk is low-fat (as it was before) and now contains less sugar than previous versions (and the sugar is from sugar cane or beets instead of the more processed high-fructose corn syrup).

Chocolate BeverageThe chocolate milk controversy is bigger than just school board policy. Chocolate milk is higher in sugar and calories than non-flavored milk, but some kids simply refuse to drink plain milk. Dairy industry data noted that milk consumption in 58 schools dropped by an average of 35 percent when flavored milk was removed or limited.

To many kids the taste of milk is just not desirable. So are kids better off consuming a little extra sugar and calories in chocolate milk than not consuming any milk? After all milk is a vital source of calcium, vitamin D, and other vital nutrients.

Chocolate-Flavored vs. Regular Milk

Milk Nutritional FactsAll milk is loaded with nutrients. One cup of fortified low-fat milk contains around 100 calories and 13 grams of sugar (in the form of lactose, a sugar found naturally in milk) and about 300 milligrams of calcium (about 25 percent of kids’ daily need) as well as vitamin D, vitamin A, B vitamins, and minerals including potassium and phosphorus. Scared of Plain MilkThe same size serving of typical low-fat chocolate milk contains about 160 calories and 25 grams of sugar (the increased amount comes from added sugar), with comparable levels of vitamins and minerals.

If you’re having trouble getting your children to drink milk and you’re concerned about the extra sugar and calories I suggest you consider putting a little a chocolate peanut butter cup in your child’s glass.

Drinking ChocolateNothing goes better together than our award-winning dark Choclatique chocolate and lightly roasted Virginia Peanuts & Peanut Butter. That’s the inspiration for our delicious Peanut Butter Swirl Drinking Chocolate Mix. It is full bodied, creamy in texture with a rich, dark chocolate color. It‘s a chocolate beverage with an intense yet comforting peanut butter flavor with only 24 grams of sugar and loaded with over 13 grams of healthful protein. Use this mix as you would traditional hot chocolate. Top with light whipped cream and crushed peanuts for additional protein. For the ultimate in chilled chocolaty refreshment, combine Peanut Butter Swirl Drinking Chocolate Mix together with cold milk and ice, blend until frothy then sprinkle with cocoa powder and crushed peanuts! Yum!

Peanut Butter Swirl Drinking Chocolate Mix is made with crushed Choclatique chocolate, premium cocoa powder and low-fat peanut flour made from USA-grown peanuts. It is all natural—no preservatives or artificial colors or flavors. It is also Gluten-Free and is perfect for everyone all year ‘round.

Customers who like Choclatique’s Peanut Butter Swirl Drinking Chocolate Mix also like our Drinking Chocolate Mix Sampler. And it so easy to make… simply add 4 tablespoons of Hot Drinking Chocolate Mix to cold milk (whole, 2%, 1%, non-fat or soy); whisk and heat for a steamy cold-weather chocolate treat. Add a dollop of light whipped cream for a sinfully chocolaty indulgence.

For the ultimate in chilled chocolaty refreshment, combine Cinnamon Drinking Chocolate Mix together with cold milk and ice… blend until frothy and sprinkle with cocoa powder and cinnamon. Enjoy!

Choclatique by Ed EngoronIf you’re looking for more chocolate beverage recipes and learning more about chocolate, its affects on the human body and improving your (and your children’s) disposition, buy my new book—Choclatique—150 Simply Elegant Desserts. 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 chocolate desserts and beverages.

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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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I Love The Smell Of Chocolate In The Morning

Friday, August 12th, 2011

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

Unwrapped Chocolate BarDo you want to feel better? Just a whiff of chocolate can do it.

Just before you ripped the wrapper off your chocolate bar yesterday, did you take a moment to have a good sniff of the unwrapped bar?

Chocolate CascadeWhile just eating chocolate is enough to put most of us in a good frame of mind and now latest research suggests “odor du chocolat” – just the smell of it – can improve your mood.

AromaCubeThis happy news comes from the Human Olfaction Laboratory at Middlesex University, where Neil Martin, a reader in psychology, investigates the effects of room smells on human behavior. In his laboratory, Martin has a square box called an AromaCube, which heats up “odorants” and percolates the smell around the room. That is where Chocolate smells like a “great tasting” theory.

LemonsFrom that box, Martin discovered the power of chocolate in an experiment where he filled rooms with three smells, one of chocolate, a “malodor” of machine oil, which most people find unpleasant, and a lemony, pleasant-but-alerting odor, then monitored testers’ moods.

The aim was to compare the effects of pleasant and unpleasant ambient odors on stress, anxiety, depression and mood. The results proved that that the smell of chocolate really does make people less stressed and anxious, and more relaxed.

Smell of ChocolateChocoholics will also be pleased to hear about some of Martin’s earlier research. In another study he looked at the effect of chocolate on brain activity. People were presented with a range of smells, some artificial food odors and some real food odors, with both samples including chocolate. He used electroencephalography technology to record his participants’ brain waves as they sniffed the air, and found that in both experiments, the chocolate smell consistently led to a reduction in a particular type of brain activity called theta, which is thought to be an index of attentiveness. Theta levels dropped significantly across both indexes when testees smelled chocolate.

High-End ChocolateThe experiment also shows there is no need for chocolate snobbery. We all know connoisseurs say posh chocolate, with a higher cocoa content, is better for your health, and it might be in some ways, but when it comes to the aroma of chocolate and its resultant relaxing effect, it was found it was the same however much milk the bar contained.

Formal WearBut some of his other scent findings provide more significant practical effects. It seems that scent can affect employment. One study found that a combination of perfume and formal dress worn by an applicant led interviewers to rate them as less warm, more manipulative and less presentable. The study also showed people perform less well on cognitive tasks and report more symptoms of ill health when smelling a “bad” smell.

As a result, people should be aware of their “olfactory environment” to control their feelings. People can use scents to improve alertness, well-being and reduce anxiety. “For example, another study showed that women in a dentist’s waiting room scented with orange reported less anxiety than those in an unscented counterpart.

Playstation 3In another experiment, PlayStations were loaded with a car rally game to test the effect of a lemon smell on driving ability. Men and women were invited to play the game on three different levels and in three different environments, one in an odorless room, one smelling of lemon, and one of machine oil.

The results showed that participants were consistently able to brake more safely and appropriately in the presence of the lemon scent. It’s perhaps because the smell is citrusy and alerting, and suggests that dangling a lemon-scented air freshener in the car could make you a better driver.

Rubik's CubeThe psychology of aromas is like a Rubik’s cube—hard to pin down and more difficult to describe. The problem is science doesn’t really understand smells yet. We have vague terms for them, and say things like “it smells like this or that,” but we don’t have chemical terms for most odors.

Chocolate AromaOne thing is certain, however. The effects of most smells tend to be short-lived. With the exception of chocolate, we get used to odors very quickly and after a while the odor disappears because we become habituated to it.

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