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Column

Chocolate and wine good for body, soul

By MICHELLE MILLER
Published September 9, 2003

Some days you have to dig deep for thoughts to list in that gratitude journal Oprah has been urging us to keep so we can have a more positive outlook on life.

Other times, the good news just falls in your lap or flashes across your TV screen.

No, I'm not talking about the start of football season, which had hubby grinning from ear to ear and declaring, "This is why the remote control was invented!"

Nor is it the MTV Video Music Award's pop star smooch between Madonna and Brittany that was still getting prominent play late last week on one of those morning news/fluff shows.

No, what I'm talking about is chocolate, the dark kind.

The Journal of the American Medical Association reports that my indulgence in dark chocolate might actually be good for me.

It seems that a short German study showed that a half-dozen adults with untreated mild hypertension had an average drop of 5 points in their systolic blood pressure (the top number) after eating a 3-ounce dark chocolate bar every day.

This "might serve as a promising approach to reduce systolic blood pressure," said the University of Cologne's Dr. Dirk Taubert.

Imagine that!

And all along I thought my typically low blood pressure readings were merely a genetic trait.

"Are you sure you're alive?" nurses would deadpan while trying to scare up a pulse and give it another go with the cuff.

That, evidently, might be because I have dark chocolate running through my veins.

Apparently, that's a good thing.

So now I don't have to feel guilty when I give in to my craving for decadent desserts while watching one of my all-time favorite movies, Chocolat, that just happens to have the bonus of featuring Johnny Depp.

Now, no one can tell me that I should lay off Dove, my preferred brand, which I think is just as tasty as those high-brow Godiva's.

To its credit, Godiva does send me e-mails whenever it's running specials. But even the sale prices could drain the finances of those needing regular fixes. Dove chocolate is affordable and its Web site has a product locator that tells me the closest store that carries my favorite brand is merely 2.18 miles from my home.

Heck, I could walk that if I had to.

The good news about dark chocolate coming on the heels of news about the health benefits of red wine makes life look a little grand right now, don't you think?

We're so used to hearing about things that are bad for us that the "chocolate is good" news is certainly something worth listing in that gratitude journal - in big, fat CAPITAL letters.

And let's dot the i's with hearts while we're at it.

Of course, chocolate lovers shouldn't get carried away. Those in the study ate chocolate instead of - not in addition to - their usual sweets, so they didn't gain any weight.

And a longer study is being called for to either confirm or debunk the results.

So quick, raise a glass of the red, pop another bon-bon and take heart that some sports enthusiasts should perhaps be concerned about their own indulgences.

As the BBC reports, a Swiss study shows that during last summer's World Cup finals, heart attack deaths increased 60 percent and a British medical journal published research that showed a 25 percent increase in heart attacks when England lost to Argentina in 1998.

The risk is so high, it seems, that some doctors want defibrillators installed at the stadium before next year's European Championships.

That's a thought.

Wonder if they can find a way to install one of those things in the remote control?

[Last modified September 10, 2003, 04:44:05]

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