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The benefits of chocolate

Chocolate is a natural antidepressant. Mainly dark chocolate – its sweet narcotic bitterness anesthetizes one’s suffering soul.

Women have known this for years, using chocolate to fend off onslaughts of mood-altering hormones. Only recently has science confirmed the fact that there is a relationship between eating chocolate and being happy, duh. For a few gluttonous moments, your senses entertain the dark glory of the cacao bean, anticipating a rush of sugar and caffeine to stimulate energy and increase oxygen absorption. No wonder chocolate takes your mind off the worries of the world.

Milk chocolate isn’t quite the same – it’s about as distracting as instant coffee.



Elements of the cacao bean inhibit free radicals from attacking human cells. Without getting into the specific effects of flavonoids, the antioxidant compounds found in chocolate assist the body in its fight against cancer and heart disease. It is almost perfect in its composition: sugar for energy, caffeine for alertness, antioxidants to fight disease, and of course fat and calories. If only you could consume chocolate and not become obese it could be the perfect drug.

I doubt my grandmother knew chocolate contained high levels of magnesium, iron and copper, minerals essential to good health. Nevertheless, she devoured Mother See’s candy by the pound. For every birthday and holiday we would give her gift certificates so she could go down to the candy store and handpick each delicious piece. If you presented her with a box of candy and she opened it, it was a sure sign you were in her favor. On the other hand, if she thanked you and squirreled it away to another room, well…




Before she died at the age of 86, (she did not have cancer or heart disease) she told me she had just two regrets; one, leaving my aging grandfather behind to fend for himself; and two, leaving her many See’s Candy gift certificates unused in the top of the bedroom closet. After she died, my mother ceremoniously divided the certificates among my sisters and me. At the time, I don’t know that I appreciated the significance of this inheritance. I know now that chocolate was used by past civilizations as currency.

What does all this have to do with Lake of the Pines, you might ask? Well, there is that See’s Candy trailer run by the Higgins Lion’s Club by Combie Deli. According to Ken Skillings, candy trailer director, the club has been offering residents delicious chocolates for nearly 17 years. He said they have many faithful customers, and this past Christmas, one Grass Valley company purchased 50 boxes for its employees.

The trailer is open for chocolate purchases to be used in celebration of many holidays, including Mother’s Day coming up on May 8. The trailer will be open the last week of April and the first week of May, then closes until Thanksgiving. Don’t miss the opportunity to experience the healthful benefits of chocolate and support the Lions Club by assisting their fund-raising efforts. Proceeds from the candy trailer go into an account used for the betterment of our community.

For more information about recent research in the area of chocolate and health, please visit http://www.chocolateinfo.com on the Web.

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Laura Lavelle is a resident of Lake of the Pines, and her column is for Lake of the Pines area residents to share thoughts and information. Contact her at laural@theunion.com or leave a phone message with the readership editor at 477-4238.


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