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The Spa Chocolate Solution
By Yvonne Nienstadt ~ Health and Nutrition Director, Cal-A-Vie Spa
Thursday, 22nd March 2007
 
Chocolate continues to hold its place in history as the sweet treat for lovers and for those longing for that delicious state of being in love.

Indeed research has found that cocoa beans contain hormone analogs that are very much akin to those we give off when we are deep in some romantic episode. One researcher at the University of California at San Diego isolated a substance in cocoa that he dubbed "anandamide" and which he determined to be a powerful euphoric (ananda means bliss in Sanscrit). No wonder Liz Taylor was once quoted as saying, "I only eat chocolate between marriages." 

Chocolate is the eternal symbol for lovers, the usual gift offered on Valentine's Day.  Yet, it can also be a curse for those trying to become more sleek and attractive for the sake of romance.  Mind you, the culprit is not the cocoa itself, but rather the fat that is almost invariably married to it in those rich, creamy confections. Unsweetened baker's chocolate has about 15.7 grams of fat per ounce (10g of which is saturated) and has 148 calories. Cocoa powder on the other hand is almost sin free with only 2.5 grams of fat and about 50 – 60 calories per ounce. If you want to be extreme, there is a decaffeinated, defatted cocoa powder called Wonderslim available in health food stores that actually still tastes good. 

Other than evoking the feelings of love, chocolate has been shown to be good for the heart in other ways. Chocolate is a rich source of magnesium, which is a powerful muscle relaxant, including those hardworking muscles of the heart. Additionally, researchers at the University of California at Davis have found that chocolate is extraordinarily high in phenol, a phytochemical that helps reduce heart disease risk by preventing cholesterol in the bloodstream from oxidizing (hardening in the presence of oxygen and thereby clogging the arteries). The phenol level in 1.5 ounces of milk chocolate is the equivalent to that in 5 ounces of red wine. This is good news indeed for those that choose not to drink.

The Eastern Ivy League has also been studying the health benefits of chocolate. Several years ago Harvard's School of Public Health surveyed data from 7,841 alumni and found that those who ate chocolate regularly had a 36% lower risk of death compared with the abstainers. That makes chocolate a pretty powerful medicine.

Next time the chocolate urge strikes, instead of those calorie rich desserts, try the following light alternative from Cal-a-Vie: The Spa Havens in Vista, California. In place of fat laden baking chocolate, cocoa powder and a fat free chocolate sauce is substituted in this Chocolate Madeleine with Pearl created by Steve Pernetti, Cal-a-Vie's Executive Chef. This dessert is a beauty to behold and a delight to eat. The Madeleine is moist and delicious, and equally nutritious owing to whole, natural ingredients.  Enjoy every morsel with a conscience that is free and clear, and live more happily and maybe longer for having done so.

Destination Spa Group

www.destinationspas.com
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