Can Chocolate Cure What Ails You? Take Two Chocolates and Call Us in the Morning

Attention chocolate lovers: the health benefits of chocolate keep getting sweeter

When I lived in Brooklyn, I used to work in an office building located across the street from the famed chocolate store Jacques Torres, aka, Mr. Chocolate. My dear colleagues (and enablers), introduced me to Dark Bark, a decadent dark-chocolate bar with roasted almonds and seeds. And on frigid winter afternoons, I introduced myself to his Wicked Hot Chocolate -- a sinful concoction of real chocolate and spices. I since moved to the DC area. And though a part of me knows I probably dodged an unhealthy bullet, the other part dreams about that magical place all the time.

My name is Letisha, and I’m a chocoholic.

It’s not news that dark chocolate has strong antioxidant properties. But according to a delicious article in TIME, enhancing dark chocolate with other natural ingredients is the latest in the booming “functional food” industry. “Functional food?” As opposed to the other crap we eat for no reason? Regardless, products like Greek yogurt, breakfast cereals, even bottled water-- anything that touts extra health or wellness benefits -- are selling like whole-grain hotcakes, to the tune of $30 billion a year.

Nutritionists say that in order to be considered healthful, chocolate must have at least 70% cacao content. So, genius chocolatiers start there and add science to create all kinds of Franken-Chocolate deliciousness that can actually treat health ailments. By blending organic, raw, unsweetened dark chocolate with other health-promoting ingredients such as chiles, paprika (for inflammation), ginger and fennel (for digestion), ginseng (for increased energy and blood sugar regulation), ginko biloba (for memory aid), better health may just come in candy bar form. Adding my Drugstore of the Future Fantasy, chocolate bars with awesome healing powers would be in aisle 12, right next to the exercise pill, adjacent to male birth control in aisle 11.

So, score -- turns out my beloved Wicked Hot Chocolate is infused with anti-inflammatory ancho and chipotle peppers, which is something that ancient Mayans already knew. (Stay tuned to see if they’re right about 2012.) To my lovely and beautiful health editors at iVillage, whose office sits atop another Jacque Torres (ahem), I’ll gladly accept partial payment in chocolate form. And to the rest of you, I hope you all got some multi-tasking chocolatey goodness this Valentine's Day.

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