Ask Dr. Atef about Chocolate

I crave chocolate every day. Is this normal or am I addicted to it? Women’s health expert Dr. Pamela Talley says that chocolate cravings can be driven by the change in balance of male and female hormones in a woman’s monthly cycle. That same flux can contribute to the periodic acne that some women experience. Chocolate and other food cravings are part of a larger serotonin issue, which is why antidepressants such as Prozac are often the treatment of choice for premenstrual symptoms. Roseanne Rust, a registered dietitian, suggests one reason that people might crave chocolate is that it has some amphetamine-like properties. “Also, the cannabinoid-like fatty acids mimic the effects of marijuana, producing euphoria,” she says.

Five hundred years ago, Spanish conquistadors called chocolate the “food of the gods” when they first discovered it in South America. That kind of reverential attitude hasn’t altered much over the centuries, as we still love it. The U.S. Chocolate Manufacturers Association says that each of us consumes 5.32 kg or about 12 lbs. per year.

So when you need a little afternoon pick-me-up, you can now confidently turn to chocolate. Before chocolate-phoria over takes you, though, remember that even though cocoa powder in itself is intrinsically low in calories, all the added ingredients that help make it so tasty are high in caloric content, fat and cholesterol.

NUTRIENT BREAKDOWN OF ONE OUNCE OF MILK CHOCOLATE:

147 calories
2 g protein
9 g fat
16 g carbohydrate
65 mg calcium
65 mg phosphorus

References: * Roseanne Rust, certified dietician, regular columnist for the Meadville Tribune, May 2000.

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