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 19th-century gourmet Jean-Anthelme Brillat-Savarin. Today Americans continue to feed their addictions: 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. Talk about a sweet tooth. That's almost 12 pounds for every man, woman and child in the U.S.

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&M's readily available over the counter, who needs Prozac?

1,2 National Confectioners Association

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