Sunday, August 24, 2008

Chocolate anyone?

A chocolate lover appraises a creamy brown square, noting its glossy finish and delicate embellishments. The sight triggers a Pavlonian response-a conditioned reflex which causes the mouth to salivate in preparation for the tasty morsel.

The chocolate enters the mouth, melting at about 27 degrees and releasing the chemical theobromine, a stimulant similar to caffein (Theobromine exists in the dark part of the chocolate. The darker the chocolate, the more theobromine it contains). Later, endorphins are released into the brain, reducing stress and creating feelings of euphoria.

Chocolate also contains cocoa flavanols found which is useful in enhancing brain function for people fighting fatigue, sleep deprivation, and even the effects of ageing. A study led by Professor Ian Macdonald from the University of Nottingham found that consumption of a cocoa drink rich in flavanols — a key ingredient of dark chocolate — boosts blood flow to key areas of the brain for two to three hours. The effect is also linked to dilation of cerebral blood vessels, allowing more blood — and therefore more oxygen — to reach key areas of the brain. Therefore, eating chocolate or drinking cocoa drink could sharpen up the mind and give a short-term boost to cognitive skills. Further, the pleasantness of eating chocolate were associated with increased blood flow in areas of the brain, particularly in the orbital frontal cortex and midbrain, that are also activated by addictive drugs such as cocaine as reported by Dana Small, assistant professor of neurology at Northwestern University Medical School. So for those who took drug to get the euphoric feelings, I would humbly suggest, to seriously think about this modest 'migration'....from drug to chocolate...Hey it is much cheaper to consume chocolate!

Chocolate has also been found to slightly lower blood pressure and help prevent heart disease, but this does not mean eating more chocolate results in healthier heart. Islam encourages moderation in eating. So don't transgress even the smell and the look of the chocolate are simply irresistable. Allah says in the Quran: (Eat and drink and be not immoderate. Verily Allah does not like the transgressors] (Al-A`raf 7:31). If you must eat make sure you fill one third of your stomach with food, one third with water and leave one third for air i.e. leave it empty. The Prophet is reported to have said:

“The stomach is the tank of the body and the veins go down to it. When the stomach is healthy the veins come back in a healthy condition, but when it is in a bad condition, they return diseased.”

The Qur’an recommend food rich in nutrients: (You people: eat of what is on earth, lawful and wholesome] (Al-Baqarah 2:168)

Reading this Qur’anic verse and sayings of the Prophet Muhammad above, some people may think that Islam is too caught up with details of everyday life. Why is so much attention given to something like food and eating when there are more important things like charity, mercy, love, and piety to be discussed? This stress on daily details of life is, however, part of the worldview of Islam. The essence of Islam lies in the relationship between the human being and his or her Creator: God (Allah). Therefore, Islam lays down suggestions and rules for living in order to promote the maintenance of the kind of living that achieves the best results for this relationship. Consequently, Islam believes that optimum spiritual health can only be achieved if one is physically sound. Malaysia is known as food heaven during Ramadhan. Thus, in the light of the coming Ramadhan, dear fellow Muslims, eat and drink moderately.

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