Tuesday, February 14, 2012

So it's good to eat chocolate (and sweets), right?

In my forays into any shopping area in the last few weeks, I have been amazed (and tempted) by all the treats I've seen prominently displayed. Now I will admit to seeing a very cute balloon bouquet that I thought would be fun to be surprised with on Valentine's Day, but mostly, I thought the food was beyond tempting. These cupcakes? I think I could eat the whole box--and they are the jumbo ones from Costco!

But all these sweets--and especially chocolate, by itself or covering almost anything--made me wonder why we associate so much of it with this holiday. I get that love should be sweet--so there is the metaphorical connection. But I learned that there might be more logical reasons, too.

Kate Dailey (Newsweek 2009) states that the taste for sweets is "hardwired into humans." Apparently, sweets reduce anxiety and stress. We certainly don't want our Valentine to feel stressed on this day of romance, do we? And the benefits of chocolate??? I could take all day to describe those. The basic idea I learned is that there are 380 known chemicals in chocolate, and--either by themselves or in combination--they  have the following effects:
* improve mood
* dull pain
* increase feelings of well being
* extend natural feelings of well being (to last longer)
* contribute to alertness and contentment
* decrease stress
I can see why we want these feelings on Valentine's Day. Day of Romance. Holiday of Love.
Oh--and chocolate has health properties, too. Physical, that is. Not just emotional. So, yes, chocolate is good for your heart in other ways, too.

But now I'm thinking that we should be enjoying these benefits on other days, too. Right? We want to be happy and de-stressed on other days, too, right?
 I think I might head to Costco at lunch today. I could stretch that box of cupcakes across several days, at least.


  1. "Chocolate saves the day" is my motto. Of course it is good to back it up with scientific evidence, so thank you for your post.

  2. Cute twist at the end...you've convinced me sweets should be a part of every day!

    I like the way you blended narrative and informational and opinion writing. I've been thinking a lot lately about how often these modes weave around one another.

    Happy Valentine's Day,

  3. I see that you have done the research and I will use this to support my need for chocolate when questioned. Love the voice in this piece!

  4. My philosophy is "A chocolate a day keeps the grumpies away." There is always chocolate in my desk drawer. I have been known to reach in and grab a piece during a stressful class period....

  5. So, I'm reading really late, great for your post, which is wonderful, and a friend on Facebook just posted this article about how you can lose weight by eating chocolate at breakfast... Hope it adds to your convictions about chocolate! http://austin.culturemap.com/newsdetail/02-13-12-atx-dessert-for-breakfast-helps-you-lose-weight-a-myth-shattering-medical-study-for-chocolate-lovers/

  6. Hmmm. I am highly addicted to sweets in all their forms. As is my dad... maybe it's what keeps us happy even at stressed times. Hahaha.

    Sweets should be an every day occurrence. In my life they are... i.e. my ice cream post.

  7. Your line about heading to Costco at lunch cracked me up! I am so pathetic. I was drooling with the first pic of the cookie. :)