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An alkaloid refined from cacao seeds, originally native to Central America and used by priests in pre-Columbian religious rituals; chocolate took Europeans by storm when brought back to Spain on Columbus's third voyage. Soon it was used everywhere in confectionary and drinks. It may be the most widely used confectionary in the world. It is not addictive like nicotine but some people (“chocoholics”) experience periodic cravings. It induces feelings of comfort among many who consume it. Excessive consumption can contribute to obesity because of the high calorie content of most chocolate confectionary. It has no adverse health effects, and there is some evidence that dark chocolate helps to provide protection from coronary heart disease.

Subjects: Medicine and Health.

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