JAMA 4 July 2007 Vol 298

As a substance both pleasurable and mildly addictive, chocolate is a natural cause of anxiety to health puritans. The fault lies with the British chocolate manufacturers (themselves of Puritan, or at least Quaker, descent) who market their cocoa solids mixed with sugar and milk fat. Cocoa itself is full of polyphenols which lower blood pressure and increase endothelial nitric oxide, as this trial of German dark chocolate demonstrates. I would occasionally get a nibble of this “bitter chocolate” in my childhood, and even then I much preferred it to the produce of Messrs Cadbury and Rowntree. In this trial, the comparator was white chocolate, with the polyphenols removed. This had no benefit. Other studies have shown that elderly Dutchmen who drink cocoa live longer. The case for regular chocolate consumption is building up. But has anyone discovered why chocolate tends to be more addictive to women than men? Or, for that matter, to dogs but not cats? Is there a hormone-dependent chocolate receptor?