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Whether any of these effects are operative when cocoa is incorporated into chocolate remains debatable since the data on chocolate is scant. In any event, it is the flavonoid phenolics in chocolate that prevent rancidity of the cocoa butter in chocolate, thereby giving it such a long shelf-life. Of course, chocolate is calorically dense, but because of this, it represents a highly concentrated source of energy in a convenient and portable form and so is used by certain types of athletes and armed forces in supply rations (12).

Mapping the glycemic response of common foods presents a different picture than classical nutrition theory would suggest. Starchy foods such as certain common breads and many cereals emerge as eliciting a high glycemic response, whereas chocolate elicits only a moderate glycemic response (13). This has prompted Brand-Miller to advise against treating hypoglycemia in type 1 diabetic patients with chocolate. This suggests that chocolate has a place, albeit limited to occasional use, in the diet of people with diabetes.

Neither cocoa nor chocolate has any reproducible correlation with headaches, although stress a factor endorsed by a high percentage of sufferers is often associated with sweet craving. Fasting or skipping meals, similarly, is also a factor correlated with headache onset. It is perhaps a combination of these factors, from which snack food consumption may result, that seem to implicate chocolate when there exists no scientific evidence of any direct, causative effect (14).

Food allergy and intolerance are far less common than most people believe. Allergy to chocolate and cocoa has rarely been documented, but allergies to milk, egg, peanut and tree nut, which are often components of chocolate-based snack foods, are more frequent (15).

With regard to dental caries, research measuring plaque pH following consumption of common food items gives a measure of their acidogenicity, which is an indicator of the potential to cause caries. Another important factor for dental caries is clearance time. The Cariogenic Potential Index (CPI) can be constructed for different foods using animal studies, with sucrose as the anchor at 1.0. On this scale, milk chocolate scored 0.8. This score is lower than would normally be assumed, but is consistent with measurements of acidogenicity and clearance time. The inhibitory effect is probably due to the presence of protective chemicals naturally present in cocoa and in milk used to make milk chocolate, which limit the rate of cariogenesis (16).

As to the reasons for the almost universal appeal of chocolate, there are in chocolate a number of naturally occurring phytochemicals, some of which have the potential to stimulate the brain. However, they exist in such small concentrations as to render their properties negligible (17). The most plausible explanation is in its sensory characteristics. It simply provides a unique and wonderful sensory experience, extending far beyond just taste. Not only that, it somehow has the ability to provide an overall feeling of well-being, which in itself is beneficial to the consumer (18).

From a nutrition perspective, chocolate, like every other food, is neither good

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