Constant Cravings

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Centuries ago, Spanish ladies in the New World were so enamored with hot chocolate, they sometimes had it brought to them in church, according to the 18th Century gourmet Jean-Anthelme Brillat-Savarin. Today Americans continue to feed their addictive behaviors: In 2000, total U.S. chocolate consumption rose to 3.3 billion pounds, up almost 7 percent from 3.1 billion pounds in 1996, according to the National Confectioners Association. That's almost 12 pounds for every man, woman and child in the U.S. Talk about a sweet tooth. So where do these cocoa cravings come from? Scientists believe that certain psychoactive substances in chocolate can diminish anxiety and help boost a person's sense of well-being. 1 Eating chocolate can also increase the body's production of endorphins, natural opiates that reduce one's sensitivity to pain. 2 With M&Ms readily available over the counter, who needs Prozac?

1,2 National Confectioners Association

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