Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Cry Havoc! And get into the chocolate

Good news for chocolate lovers! From Medical News Today comes word of this Dutch study which reports that cocoa drinking, chocolate eating Dutch men have lower blood pressure and fewer cardiovascular problems.

The researchers found than elderly men who drank cocoa enjoyed lower blood pressure and a more reduced risk of developing cardiovascular problems, when compared to elderly men who did not consume cocoa.
I knew this. Because Kaatji told me so.

I had the priviledge of commanding a Netherlands registered cruise ship not so long ago. Aside from the great food available at all times of the day, there was a regular event every four days at midnight known as "Death by Chocolate". It was the most amazing spread of Dutch chocolate I have ever seen, then and since. I also determinately avoided it. I have zero will-power around chocolate.

The crew was a rather cosmopolitan group comprising, Indonesians, Americans, Canadians, British and of course, Dutch. The ship's hostess was a strikingly beautiful woman named Kaatji. I call her beautiful because, besides causing 2nd and 3rd officers to melt at the sound of her voice, she was possessed of amazing intelligence. The Chief Engineer was often wont to say, when some piece of machinery was giving him trouble, "I'll call Kaatji. She can figure it out faster than anybody else." And she could.

During her occasional visits to the bridge, an event which would cause the Officer of the Watch to start babbling uncontrollably, Kaatji would always start a conversation with a subject out of the blue. She was a fountain of knowledge and if one was inclined to research some of her conclusions, she was always proven correct. She was not without ego for she would occasionally expound on her sex life and was quite proud of the fact that she had a lover in every port, thus she had no need to expand any relationship onboard beyond the platonic. This would cause the Officer of the Watch to start weeping, something he would excuse as eye strain brought on by constant staring at the radar.

Kaatji knew I was a chocolate freak. She had analyzed the fact that I would steer well clear of "Death by Chocolate" and had determined the only reason I would do that is because I loved the stuff so much. One morning she appeared on the bridge with some remnants of the previous night's choco-extravaganza, insisting that I have some. I was reluctant lest my addiction returned and I rushed out to buy a case of Cabury's anything. She insisted and said, "It's good for your heart."

"You mean in the Valentine's sense?"

"No," she said. "Chocolate is good for you. It's really good for your heart."

When I expressed my skepticism she told me she would eventually be proven right. And damned if she wasn't right on the mark.

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