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The benefits of chocolate, myths and a poem

Updated on June 19, 2013
Bendick's Mint
Bendick's Mint | Source

By Michelle Liew Tsui-Lin

“Chocolate symbolizes, as does no other food, luxury, comfort, sensuality, gratification, and love.” ― Karl Petzke, food writer

Many of us would agree with the chef-author’s feelings on chocolate. To us, it is everything that he says it represents. Chocolate is indulgence, satisfaction and the ultimate in comfort food, regardless of the packaging or form it comes in. Think of chocolate cake, chocolate mousse.....I do not think I need to go on.

Chocolate, for some, can be sinful fodder that raises calorie and weight levels. Yet it remains a symbolic gesture of love that anyone who receives will appreciate.

Other than it being sinfully delicious, what is the sinful draw of this near perfect food? This dessert is rich not only in calories but in its history. It has health benefits that may surprise you!

The story of chocolate

The history of chocolate

Many of us will be familiar with Cacao, the Spanish term for chocolate. Mexico to Belize, Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, and northern Costa Rica. Chocolate, fermented roast beans otherwise known as theobroma cacao, can be traced back to the mokaya and pre olmec people. Evidence of cacao beverages dates back to 1900 B.C.

The delicious beans played an important role in the religious and royal events of the Aztecs. Cacao seeds were presented as offerings to the Gods and chocolate drinks were served during ceremonies. The people of the areas conquered by the Aztecs were ordered to pay them the cacao they grew as a form of tribute.The Europeans sweetened it with sugar and milk, turning it into the delightful dessert that we know today. Briton John Cadbury, of Cadbury Chocolate fame developed the emulsification process that turn these beans into the delicious cocoa bars known so well all over the world.

With the industrial revolution came many changes to the process of chocolate making. Cocoa butter gave the hard, sweet candy new life. As more new machines were produced, people began consuming chocolate worldwide.

Chocolate might have been a mesoamerican invention, but West Africa produces two thirds of the world’s chocolate today.

Choc-in-a-box!
Choc-in-a-box! | Source

The surprising health benefits of chocolate

Many mums will restrict their kids to having only a certain amount of chocolate. Taken in small amounts, these sweet beans give our health surprising advantages. In many studies conducted on this sweet treat. consuming dark chocolate in healthy amounts can be very good for us.

Lessens the risk of stroke

A Swedish study to determine the association of chocolate consumption and the risk of stroke, performed by Dr. Susanna C Larson of the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, Sweden, began in 1997. 37 103 men who consumed chocolate had their chocolate eating habits determined with a baseline study questionnaire. Cases of those who had a first stroke were extracted from the Swedish Hospital Discharge registry.

In the ten years that followed, 1995 incident cases of stroke were ascertained. It was found that the same gentlemen who had a larger intake of chocolate had a lower risk of stroke.

In a similar study on women, it was found that women who took in more that 45 grams of chocolate a week had a 20 percent lower risk of stroke that their other counterparts.

Chocolate lessens the strain on the heart.

Chocolate boosts good cholesterol (LDL) levels. It also diminishes high blood pressure, diminishing the risk of heart disease.

Researchers in Australia have found that eating 100 grams of dark chocolate a day can reduce the risk of heart disease. The secret of chocolate’s success? Flavonoids and metabolites that are the bodies needed antioxidants.

Chocolate keeps one full.

Eating a few bars of chocolate is enough to fill the tummy. Because it is rich in fiber, this can be for an extended period of time, so revealed Dr. David Katz, founder of Yale University’s Prevention Research Centre in a post on Huffpost. Those who eat it may have significantly lower BMI or Body Mass Index, a measure of height relative to weight.

According to another study from Copenhagen, dark chocolate fills the tummy better than milk!

Chocolate reduces the risk of diabetes.

Regularly eating chocolate reduces insulin sensitivity, as was found by a small Italian study in 2005. In a meta analysis of seven studies, including one which followed over 114 000 people, those who ate dark chocolate experienced a 31 per cent lower risk of heart disease.

Chocolate protects your skin.

f you have heard that chocolates darken one’s skin color, then it could be time to debunk the myth. The flavonoids in chocolate actually prevent UV damage!

Chocolate reduces cough.

Professor of respiratory pharmacology, Maria Belvisi of the National Heart and Lung Institute in London maintains that chocolate does not contain the side effects of codeine, usually used to treat coughs. Instead, it contains the chemical theobromine, which reduces the activity of the vagus nerve and produces chocolate’s feel good effect.

Chocolate boosts the mood.

Alright, we all know this. Chocolate greatly increases our endorphin levels because of the presence of seratonin, the chemical contained in the antidepressant Prozac. It greatly increases our sensations of happiness and a good mood. No surprises as to why people take lots of chocolate when they are stressed or depressed.

In a study conducted by the University of Michigan, chocolate also contains the chemical opoid, which gives a general feeling of well-being.

Chocolate improves blood flow.

Chocolate has blood thinning properties that improve blood flow. In a study by Dietrich Rein et al, which sought to determine if polyphenol rich cocoa modulates human platelet activity, The conclusion was that cocoa consumption suppressed ADP or Ex vivo epinephrine activation.

Chocolate improves vision

After testing the vision of 30 young men and women, researchers from the University of Reading have found that chocolate enables one to see better in low contrast situations. Their thinking skills were also tested after eating dark and white chocolate bars.To avoid influencing the results, researchers did not tell subjects that they were testing their ability of dark chocolate to improve thinking - instead they were told that the study was on different amounts of fat.

The higher flavonoids of the dark chocolate bars enabled them to perform better on the critical thinking tests.

Chocolate makes you more intelligent.

Parents just might love chocolate for this. Participants of a British study given large amounts of flavonoids did better when counting backwards in groups of three because of the increased blood flow to the brain.

Chocolate may help to prolong life.

In a study conducted by Harvard University Researchers in 1999, 8000 men were tracked. Those who ate dark chocolate lived almost a year longer than those who did not, owing perhaps to the antioxidants present in chocolates.

Chocolate keeps us alert.

The caffeine content in chocolate keeps us alert. Phenylethylamine in chocolate also contributes to a feeling of alertness.

Kagi chocolates with rum.
Kagi chocolates with rum. | Source

Debunking chocolate myths

We all grew up around old wives tales created around discouraging the eating of chocolate. Some of them, however, should be debunked, and studies have proven to do that very well.

Myth 1: Chocolate causes acne

As mentioned before, chocolate could serve to protect the skin. Two studies published in 1969 and 1971 have cast doubt on the correlation between diet and acne.

Myth 2: It is not a health food.

Perhaps the presentation of it as a dessert casts doubt on chocolate being a health food, but dark chocolate is proven to have higher antioxidant levels than blueberries. In its natural state, it is proven to have high levels of magnesium, chromium and iron, according to Dr. David Wolf.

Myth 3: Chocolate makes you fat

With added sugar and milk, it comes as no surprise that chocolate has been accused of being the leading cause of weight increase. However, studies have shown that chocolate actually keeps us thin.

Myth 4: Dark chocolate is the best kind

It is, but the dark chocolate you eat has got to contain at least 70% of cacao before it can be considered as having health benefits. Healthier chocolates are ones that have been minimally processed.

Myth 5: Chocolate causes tooth decay.

Researchers have found that chocolate stops the spread of mouth bacteria. The World Health Organization has highlighted fermentable carbohydrates as causing tooth decay. Chocolate contains these, but the cocoa butter helps to protect the teeth against the growth of bacteria by coating it.

Familiar chocolate bars
Familiar chocolate bars | Source

What does chocolate represent?

Chocolate represents much of the positive in life. These representations have made them ideal gifts since time immemorial.

Indulgence

Chocolates are always present at times when we are supposed to be enjoying ourselves. They are the hallmarks of any festive occasion and the mark of enjoyment. It reminds people to indulge!

Sensuality and romance

Chocolate has always been thought of as an aphrodisiac and is regarded as the stimulant of the senses. They have always been Cupid’s Arrows at Valentine's Day.

Happiness

Chocolates mean happiness! Remember the presence of seratonin and opoid that boost the sensations of joy.

A chocolate poll!

How do you like your chocolate?

See results

What is an epulaeryu?

An epulaeryu is a poetic form that features a favorite culinary delight, and because this is about chocolate, I have decided to include one here. The author Joseph Spence combined the Latin word “Epulae” for feast with the Japanese word Ryu or form. Hence we have the epulaeryu.

The epulaeryu has 33 syllables. The first line has seven, the next 5, the third seven, the fourth five and so on in this order:

7-5-7-5-5-3-1

The last line that contains only 1 syllable has to end with an exclamation mark, highlighting the poets penchant for that particular food. Here is my epulaeryu to chocolate.

Epulaeryu and Photo of Hershey's Kisses by Michelle Liew Tsui-Lin
Epulaeryu and Photo of Hershey's Kisses by Michelle Liew Tsui-Lin | Source
Source

Conclusion

If I have not convinced you to go on a chocolate binge, I hope that I have brought about a taste for simple , short poetry. Here’s to all chocolate lovers!

Original work by Michelle Liew Tsui-Lin

All rights reserved

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    • Sunshine625 profile image

      Linda Bilyeu 4 years ago from Orlando, FL

      Everything about this hub is yummilicious!!!

    • fpherj48 profile image

      Paula 4 years ago from Beautiful Upstate New York

      MMMMM....YUM! Chocolate is in a category all it's own......nothing substitutes for it. We crave it, we love it.....often we NEED it.

      Chocolate actually speaks to us. It says, "I love you," "Congratulations," "Hope you feel better," "Best Friends Forever," "Happy Holidays,"........and an endless list of wishes!!

      It's perfect for spoiling us, comforting us and making us smile. No wonder chocolate is the world's best luxury!...UP+++

    • midget38 profile image
      Author

      Michelle Liew 4 years ago from Singapore

      On the benefits of chocolate, why we love chocolate, a few chocolate myths and an epulaeryu poem.

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      This is a hub I can "sink my teeth into. " Love hearing about my favorite food group and how good it is for us. :)

    • Janine Huldie profile image

      Janine Huldie 4 years ago from New York, New York

      Totally speaking my language here and love me some chocolate!! But seriously didn't know all the many benefits and thank you so much for sharing that here. Hope you are having a great day and have of course voted and shared, too!

    • kidscrafts profile image

      kidscrafts 4 years ago from Ottawa, Canada

      You don't have to push me really hard to eat chocolate, Michelle!

      I am Belgian from origin so I thing I was born with a Godiva chocolate in my hands ;-)

      With time, I learn to appreciate dark chocolate... better for my health for sure!

      Thanks for sharing all those health facts about chocolate!

      The good thing now it's also easier to buy fair trade chocolate so everybody is a winner in this case!

      Voted up, delicious, awesome and interesting, Michelle!

      Have a great day!

    • mary615 profile image

      Mary Hyatt 4 years ago from Florida

      Well, ....I've been a chocolate lover all my life! I honestly can't say it has aided in my intelligence.

      I am not fond of dark chocolate, but prefer light milk chocolate instead.

      Good to learn the history of this wonderful stuff that we all love!

      Great Hub. Voted UP and shared all around.

    • Careermommy profile image

      Tirralan Watkins 4 years ago from Los Angeles, CA

      Great hub! I'm a big believer in chocolate for good health. This is a well researched and very thorough article. Good job, voted up!

    • tillsontitan profile image

      Mary Craig 4 years ago from New York

      I'm coming out of the closet....I am a chocoholic! Any kind of chocolate, the darker the better....I can't get enough. I do eat one square of 85% cacao every night.

      This is a great hub Michelle and I know everyone's going out to buy more chocolate especially since they now know all the wonderful benefits.

      Voted up, useful, awesome, interesting and shared.

    • Lastheart profile image

      Maria Magdalena Ruiz O'Farrill 4 years ago from Borikén the great land of the valiant and noble Lord

      Great...red light!!!!

    • Glimmer Twin Fan profile image

      Glimmer Twin Fan 4 years ago

      Give me any reason to eat chocolate. Interesting hub.

    • Just Ask Susan profile image

      Susan Zutautas 4 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      It's always nice to know the things we love are good for us. Really interesting hub and I chose dark chocolate. Yum!!!!

    • vibesites profile image

      vibesites 4 years ago from United States

      Fortunately I'm a dark chocolate addict. I'm happy that it helps in prolonging life... And I will live long to eat more chocolate! :)

    • janetwrites profile image

      Janet Giessl 4 years ago from Georgia country

      Very interesting and informative hub about chocolate. I knew some of the health benefits but not all of them. So it was good to read them again. I also love your poem. Thank you for sharing this.

    • ladydeonne profile image

      Deonne Anderson 4 years ago from Florence, SC

      Great hub! It's so refreshing to learn about the positive sides of one's indulgences. Seems that most things we love do not love or are not good for us. Think you can do a hub on the positive sides of Jolly Rancher Lollipops and hard candies? JR is my #1 indulgence. Chocolate covered peanuts are #2. LOL

    • livingsta profile image

      livingsta 4 years ago from United Kingdom

      Wow, so many interesting things and benefits about the chocolate. I also like your epulaeryu to chocolate. Thank you for sharing this with us.

      Voted up, beautiful and interesting. Sharing :-)

    • Pamela99 profile image

      Pamela Oglesby 4 years ago from United States

      Now I can eat chocolate and not feel quilty! What a lot of good news. I heard on the news that if you keep some dark chocolte in your car when you get stressed driving, take a couple of bits and the stress leaves due to the endorphins. Sounds like a plan. Awesome hub.

    • Nell Rose profile image

      Nell Rose 4 years ago from England

      First of all I love your epulaeryu poem! now to the main part....give me chocolate now! lol! seriously this was great, and I never realised all the benefits of chocolate, now when I sit eating it all evening I won't feel so guilty! voted up and tweeted!

    • midget38 profile image
      Author

      Michelle Liew 4 years ago from Singapore

      Thanks, Sunshine!!

    • midget38 profile image
      Author

      Michelle Liew 4 years ago from Singapore

      Hey, Paula! It definitely sends sweet messages indeed. Thanks for sharing!

    • midget38 profile image
      Author

      Michelle Liew 4 years ago from Singapore

      Dig in, Bill, plenty of chocs to share around! Thanks for sharing!

    • midget38 profile image
      Author

      Michelle Liew 4 years ago from Singapore

      Thanks,Janine! Let's share the Language of Chocs!

    • midget38 profile image
      Author

      Michelle Liew 4 years ago from Singapore

      We must have our chocs! Interesting that you're Belgian from origin. Do share more! Glad to have you around always, Kidscrafts!

    • midget38 profile image
      Author

      Michelle Liew 4 years ago from Singapore

      It's so easy to fall in love with chocolates! Glad to share it and hopefully people will feel less guilty after eating it. :) Thanks for sharing, Mary.

    • midget38 profile image
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      Michelle Liew 4 years ago from Singapore

      Glad to share, Careermommy.

    • midget38 profile image
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      Michelle Liew 4 years ago from Singapore

      Ah!! I sure hope that people will feel less guilty after eating. But really check if it has a high percent of Cacao. Thanks for sharing, Mary!

    • midget38 profile image
      Author

      Michelle Liew 4 years ago from Singapore

      Thanks, Lastheart!

    • midget38 profile image
      Author

      Michelle Liew 4 years ago from Singapore

      Thanks, Glim!

    • midget38 profile image
      Author

      Michelle Liew 4 years ago from Singapore

      Hi Susan! Let's share more chocolates!!

    • midget38 profile image
      Author

      Michelle Liew 4 years ago from Singapore

      Yes, to longevity and chocolate, Vibesites!

    • midget38 profile image
      Author

      Michelle Liew 4 years ago from Singapore

      Thanks, Janet writes!

    • midget38 profile image
      Author

      Michelle Liew 4 years ago from Singapore

      I hope that people will indulge without feeling so guilty! Thanks for sharing, Ladydeonne!

    • midget38 profile image
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      Michelle Liew 4 years ago from Singapore

      Thanks, Livingsta!!

    • midget38 profile image
      Author

      Michelle Liew 4 years ago from Singapore

      Thanks, Pamela! Yes, it's supposed to decrease the stress. Let's have more.

    • midget38 profile image
      Author

      Michelle Liew 4 years ago from Singapore

      Hi Nell!! No, no, don't ever feel guilty eating chocolate!! Enjoy and savor it. Thanks for sharing!!

    • agapsikap profile image

      agapsikap 4 years ago from Philippines

      Perfect indulgence! Love your hub. Up and sharing!

    • Gypsy Rose Lee profile image

      Gypsy Rose Lee 4 years ago from Riga, Latvia

      Voted up and awesome. Chocolatey wonderful and delicious. Nice to hear about all the health benefits. Passing this on.

    • carter06 profile image

      Mary 4 years ago from Cronulla NSW

      You are Delicious midget!! for writing this stellar hub and proving to all the nay sayers out there that Chocolate really is fantastic for us and that we shouldn't feel guilty eating it and for it's amazing health benefits and etc etc etc..Man I so need better vision, more intelligence, alertness & and wouldn't mind prolonging my life..More chocolate pleasssee!! :)

      Voting, sharing, pinning +..Cheers

    • Mhatter99 profile image

      Martin Kloess 4 years ago from San Francisco

      Thank you for this. My favorite chocolate is World's Finest, which is always sold by some charity.So, in a way, my chocolate is good for something.

    • ishwaryaa22 profile image

      Ishwaryaa Dhandapani 4 years ago from Chennai, India

      A wonderfully written and well-researched hub! My favorite parts of your hub are debunking myths and epulaeryu. I am a huge lover of chocolates, particularly milk chocolates. Way to go!

      Thanks for SHARING. Useful, Awesome & Interesting. Voted up & shared

    • travmaj profile image

      travmaj 4 years ago from australia

      A big YES from me for this hub - all the lovely things I needed to know about chocolate and a epulaeryu - what an intriguing poetry form. I thought this was thoroughly engaging throughout and I now know I need never feel guilty when I indulge in chocolate - hurray - It also brought back memories of one of my favourite book/fims - Chocolat - Thank you.

      voting...

    • Cyndi10 profile image

      Cynthia B Turner 4 years ago from Georgia

      Hello Michelle, Love the chocolate! How did you keep from running out to buy tons of it while you wrote this? To lend authenticity, you know.

      I eat dark chocolate everyday, so I'm counting on all those health benefits.

      Like travmaj, the poetry form, epulaeryu, is one I am not familiar with. You've inspired me to think of other foods that I would feel so strongly about that I would write an epulaeryu.

      Voted up!

    • Jackie Lynnley profile image

      Jackie Lynnley 4 years ago from The Beautiful South

      Dark chocolate goes in my diet starting tomorrow! Great news, thank you.

    • teaches12345 profile image

      Dianna Mendez 4 years ago

      I am a chocolate lover and in full agreement of your article content. Good to know I am reaping a lot of benefit from eating this wonderful food choice. Voted up!

    • midget38 profile image
      Author

      Michelle Liew 4 years ago from Singapore

      It is, isn't it? Glad to share a little chocolate indulgence, agapsikap!

    • midget38 profile image
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      Michelle Liew 4 years ago from Singapore

      Hi, Rasma!! Glad to share a little chocolate! Glad it's not so bad for us after all!

    • midget38 profile image
      Author

      Michelle Liew 4 years ago from Singapore

      Hi Carter, thanks for saying that! Yes, we should not feel too guilty eating chocolate, but should always make sure that we read the label - see that it has a high percentage of cacao. More chocolate on the way, Carter!

    • midget38 profile image
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      Michelle Liew 4 years ago from Singapore

      Hey ho, Hatter! Ah, yes, chocolates for charity are definitely the best kind. Thanks for sharing!!

    • midget38 profile image
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      Michelle Liew 4 years ago from Singapore

      Always appreciate you coming by, Ish, and I am really glad to connect with another chocolate lover! Thanks for sharing!

    • midget38 profile image
      Author

      Michelle Liew 4 years ago from Singapore

      No, you don't have to feel guilty about the chocolate, Travmaj, just the sugar! Chocolat was a great film indeed! Thanks for sharing!

    • midget38 profile image
      Author

      Michelle Liew 4 years ago from Singapore

      Hi Cyndi, I actually had a store in the fridge when I wrote this. ;p I love chocs! Am so glad that you'd like to try an

      epulaeryu. It is short, sweet and can be used to describe lots of our favorite foods!

    • midget38 profile image
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      Michelle Liew 4 years ago from Singapore

      Glad to share dark chocolate with you, Jackie!

    • midget38 profile image
      Author

      Michelle Liew 4 years ago from Singapore

      It has wonderful benefits, when eaten in the right amounts and form! Thanks for sharing, Dianna.

    • MrsBrownsParlour profile image

      Lurana Brown 4 years ago from Chicagoland, Illinois

      Years ago, I saw an excellent chocolate exhibit at Chicago's Field Museum that discussed the cacao bean and the food's cultural history.

      I love chocolate but try to avoid too much sugar and thought the "health benefits" were marketing hype....but you have really convinced me of its dietary benefits. Thank you, I will be buying some dark chocolate today. :-) Lurana

    • midget38 profile image
      Author

      Michelle Liew 4 years ago from Singapore

      Hi Lurana, enjoy the dark chocolate!! My absolute favorite kind! Thanks for sharing.

    • Theater girl profile image

      Jennifer 4 years ago from New Jersey

      Delicious work! I enjoy a piece of bittersweet chocolate everyday! Its s ritual that I look forward to.....nice to know its healthy!

    • midget38 profile image
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      Michelle Liew 4 years ago from Singapore

      That should be the closest we can get to chocolate in its purest form! Thanks for sharing, Theater Girl!

    • Eiddwen profile image

      Eiddwen 4 years ago from Wales

      Wonderful read Michele and voted up without a doubt.; have a great weekend.

      Eddy.

    • midget38 profile image
      Author

      Michelle Liew 4 years ago from Singapore

      Thank you, Eddy.

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      Valleypoet 4 years ago

      It almost sounds too good to be true, something that tastes so good being good for you too....you have provided us with some very interesting and surprising information about chocolate here.. I loved the poem too...thank you Michelle:-))

    • midget38 profile image
      Author

      Michelle Liew 4 years ago from Singapore

      Hi Valley! There is a catch to these benefits, yes, you're absolutely right...it'd be the dark, unsweetened chocs! Thanks for sharing!

    • Sharkye11 profile image

      Jayme Kinsey 4 years ago from Oklahoma

      Fun hub! I'm not a huge chocolate lover, but every few months or so I will get in a big way of eating chocolate for a few days. Since I don't eat sweets often, I totally binge when the chocolate urge does hit. I never understood the whole "causes tooth decay" in regards to any candy. I was always taught to brush my teeth after eating sweets! My mother never restricted us on candy, but we did have to brush our teeth, and if we ate candy we were sent outside to run off the new energy! I guess her theories worked...we were never obese, and we've never had cavities. :) Voting this delicious hub up and more!

    • midget38 profile image
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      Michelle Liew 4 years ago from Singapore

      Thanks, Sharkeye! Will have more delicious food hubs to offer!

    • AudreyHowitt profile image

      Audrey Howitt 4 years ago from California

      Well now I will have to indulge!!!

    • Sunshine625 profile image

      Linda Bilyeu 4 years ago from Orlando, FL

      This hub continues to be yummilicious! :)

    • midget38 profile image
      Author

      Michelle Liew 4 years ago from Singapore

      Do, Audrey, do!

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      billd01603 3 years ago

      Informative HUB. Thanks for writing

    • midget38 profile image
      Author

      Michelle Liew 3 years ago from Singapore

      Thanks, billd!

    • David Carl profile image

      David Carl 3 years ago from New York

      Definitely inspires me to review my chocolate eating habits as a health enhancer.

    • midget38 profile image
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      Michelle Liew 3 years ago from Singapore

      Thanks, David!

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