Chocolate for Love and Copper

February 1, 2010


NEW YORK, NY— Valentine's Day marks the time of year when we can all feel comfortable revealing our secret love affairs… with chocolate.

First cultivated by the early Aztecs, who believed "xocolatl" to be a gift from their gods, chocolate ignited such passion when brought to the New World that many Europeans considered it an aphrodisiac. In 1861, Richard Cadbury introduced the first heart-shaped candy box, forever linking chocolate to our annual day devoted to love.

It's easy to love chocolate, for all the obvious reasons, but especially when one hears about the potential antioxidant benefits frequently associated with this tempting treat. The jury is still out as to whether chocolate actually is good for the body-manufacturers are permitted to advertise only its good taste. But while scientists, dieticians and the FDA disagree as to whether chocolate can be part of a healthy diet, the rest of us find it hard to avoid its sweet siren-song in the month of February.

Regardless of whether you like chocolate or not, one other health benefit is certain-it is a good source of copper. Copper is a vital element that plays many essential roles in the human body. It facilitates cardiovascular and neurological health, builds connective tissue, promotes bone development and maintains needed levels of red blood cells.

Dave Grotto, a registered licensed dietician and spokesperson for the American Dietetic Association, explains that there is a synergy between copper and other minerals within the body. "Copper works hand-in-hand with iron to help fight blood anemia," Grotto says. "Copper is also important in helping the body carry on its immune functions."

Although processing strips many foods of healthy nutrients, the intrinsic natural benefits of cocoa are retained when it is made into chocolate-especially dark chocolate. According to the website of the Copper Development Association,, chocolate is an important copper-rich food, along with nuts, grains, organ meats, shellfish and dried fruits.

Undoubtedly, for many people-those on weight-loss regimens, with New Year's resolutions or the terminally chocoholic-this universally beloved sweet poses a problem. But having a good excuse makes it easier to succumb to chocolate's seductive charms. And if some experts believe it's an important part of a healthy diet, who are we to argue?