CHOCOLATES are sweet confectionary, prepared by using cocoa powder, sugar, milk, fruits, cardamoms, etc. The much-relished product is made from the fermented, roasted and ground beans taken from the pod of the tropical cacao tree, the Obroma cacao. Almost two-thirds of world cocoa is produced in western Africa. There are various varieties of chocolates: unsweetened chocolate or unadulterated chocolate; dark chocolate or chocolate without milk; milk chocolate or chocolate with milk powder or condensed milk; semi-sweet chocolate or dark chocolate with high sugar content; bittersweet chocolate or unsweetened chocolate, to which sugar and more cocoa butter has been added; and white chocolate or confection based on cocoa butter, with the cocoa solids.

Chocolates rule people's taste buds (and sensibilities) everywhere from Italy to Ireland, from Argentina to Australia. Actually, few people in the world can resist the temptation of having a bite or two of soft, delicious chocolate bars and candies, even though they may be aware that these products are fattening and contain the harmful ingredients of sugar and condiments. What inspires the world? Is it the distinctive bittersweet taste of chocolates that keep people hooked on the product, or is it the usual feeling of exhilaration that comes with the consumption of chocolates? More significantly, are chocolates good for health, or are they unhealthy for supposedly having disproportionate amounts of lead, caffeine and sugar?

The world remains uncertain even after so many years, although some people have started accepting that chocolates are not harmful if consumed moderately. To begin with, chocolate intake has been linked with the release of serotin in the brain, which produces feelings of pleasure and well-being in the body. Chocolates are also known to increase longevity. A Harvard University study of 8,000 people, of an average age of 65, showed that those who consumed chocolates lived almost a year longer than those who didn't. Chocolates are also known to boost brainpower. In addition, chocolate contains stearic acid - a kind of fat that doesn't raise bad cholesterol. A study conducted in the Journal of the American Heart Association sometime ago also shows that chocolate (dark) might even lower one's blood pressure and improve insulin resistance. Chocolate is a good source of carbohydrates, is an excellent source of quick energy and a powerful fighter of fatigue. Interestingly, daily consumption of chocolates also reportedly prevents some types of dreaded diseases, like cancer. Plenty of thought-and chocolates-to chew over



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