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Chocolate side up or down? Scientist reveals the best way to eat a Chocolate Digestive

Chocolate is undoubtedly the nation’s favourite dietary vice but lots of research over the years has found that it could actually be good for us.

With more than 300 chemicals in chocolate, scientists are investigating a whole range of health benefits linked to the food.

Researchers at Harvard University studied 8,000 men aged over 65 and found that those who ate modest amounts of chocolate lived almost a year longer than those who ate none.

Dr Neil Martin of the Cognition and Research Centre at Middlesex University exposed people to different smells and measured their brain activity.

The results showed that smell receptors in the nasal passages reacted so strongly to the chemical mix in chocolate that it left people on an emotional high.

A 100g bar of dark chocolate gives you 2.4mg of iron and 90mg of magnesium, around one third of the recommended daily amounts.

White chocolate, on the other hand, contains no cocoa solids, just cocoa butter, and is relatively high in fat. A 100g white Toblerone bar has a whopping 540 calories and 30.7g of fat.

Yet, despite its sugar content, chocolate is said by dentists to be less damaging to the teeth than many other sweets because it tends to be chewed quickly, not sucked.

There are also naturally-occurring tannins in chocolate that help to inhibit the growth of dental plaque. 

And there is known to be a substance in all chocolate called phenylethamine (PEA), which is produced naturally by the brain and thought to increase levels of the mood-enhancing chemicals, serotonin and endorphins.

In theory, the more PEA you eat, the more amorous and aroused you feel, which is why chocolate has gained a reputation as an aphrodisiac.

A TV series on the Food Network called Food: Fact or Fiction? looks at how eating chocolate affects the brain.

Researchers found sharing chocolate with a loved one increased oxytocin levels.

This much-loved sweet treat also stimulates theobromine and phenylethylamine.

Phenylethylamine stimulates the release of B-endorphin which stokes the production of dopamine and norepinephrine.

These chemicals flood your system when you’re feeling loving.

Theobromine is chemically similar to caffeine and like its chemical cousin it stimulates the central nervous system and also has mood enhancing effects.