Last Updated: Fri Jul 29, 2011 04:14 am (KSA) 01:14 am (GMT)

Sarah Sfeir / Mediterranean Views: Letter to my nutritionist about my chocolate addiction

Dear Nutritionist:

I know you’ve been seeing me for the last few months, or should I say for the last year, and I really wonder how you still find the patience to see me one appointment after the other. I know that you keep telling me that chocolate is not good for me, and that I should have “healthier” eating habits, but after thorough research, this is what I found:

Chocolate is produced from tropical cacao tree seed and can be found as a raw or processed food. It was known for more than 2,000 years ago and nowadays it has become one of the most popular food types and flavors in the world ( if not THE most popular)! We don’t need to argue about it!

There are many facts related to chocolate, but the funniest of them all is, that long time ago, they used to punish the prisoners by feeding them dark chocolate known for its bitter taste. They must have been kidding!

Another thing that you must know is that cocoa beans were used as a currency in Latin America. About 10 beans would buy you a rabbit and100 beans would buy you a slave. In Latin America, cocoa beans were still used as a currency until the 19th century.
During my search for “Why should Sarah eat chocolate,” I discovered something that I had previously experienced without knowing it was scientifically proven. I discovered that when someone is sad or depressed, he should grab a chocolate bar and eat it. It’ll cheer him up! Technically speaking, “alkaloids” such as “theobromine” and “phenethylamine” can be found in chocolate and these substances were proven to have physiological effects on the body. Moreover, many studies link chocolate to increase serotonin levels in the brain; serotonin is also known as the “happiness hormone” even though it is not actually a hormone.

And I have good news for all women. In the recent “Swedish Mammography Cohort” study that was done on more than 11,000 women in Sweden, it visibly showed that women who ate chocolate “in moderation” during the 9 year-study had no diabetes, no heart failure, and no heart attack. The researchers stated that the majority of chocolate consumed in Sweden contain a 30 percent cocoa solids concentration, more than what is normally found in the US.

I don’t remember if during our meetings, I mentioned how much I love Spain; well, let me tell you that my passion for this country has multiplied when I read that in Spain in the 16th century, chocolate was considered a health food and a medicine. Spanish doctors prescribed it as a cure for fevers, indigestion, and alleviating pain. Viva España!

As you may have noticed during our previous encounters, I am a passionate chocolate devotee, and in case you are reading this article, you know what to expect for my next appointment.

Faithfully,

Sarah S. (For Seratonin)

P.S: To those who are reading this article, if you have a pet, especially dogs and cats, save chocolate for yourself! The presence of “theobromine” makes the chocolate very toxic to some animals.

(Sarah Sfeir, who holds an MBA from USEK University in Lebanon, is a Ph.D. candidate in translation. She can be reached at: sarah-sfeir@live.com)

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