If God had wanted women to be perfect, he or she wouldn't have invented chocolate.

Creating a food as sumptuously soothing and as voluptuously velvety as chocolate was a rotten trick to play, especially on us nutritionists who are supposed to abstain at all times - apart, that is, from Valentine's Day, Easter, Mother's Day, birthdays, unbirthdays and, er, I'm sure I'll think of something else.

There is no end to our wickedness where chocolate is concerned. We shamelessly turn out our partners' pockets, not for signs of infidelity but the tag-end of an antique chocolate bar.

And we are prone to making rash promises if only he will go out to replenish our dwindling supplies at all hours in all weathers.

Real heroes always comply, just like the chap in the famous Milk Tray ad, for there is no greater fury to behold than a woman deprived of her favourite chocolate.

But is it good for us? Can we delude ourselves that candy is dandy?

The cocoa bean contains several important minerals including magnesium, copper, zinc and iron.

Women suffering from PMS are notoriously deficient in magnesium and often can't control their cravings for chocolate at that time.

It also contains phenylethylamine, a potent stimulant which produces a sense of euphoria, lending some credence to the view that chocolate is an effective aphrodisiac.

In addition, it is an excellent source of flavonoids, a group of plant chemicals with powerful antioxidant properties.

Flavonoids reportedly decrease the oxidation of LDL cholesterol which is a major risk factor for heart disease.

The oxidation of cholesterol contributes to a build-up of arterial plaque and may clog up our arteries.

Flavonoids can slow down the process and help to strengthen the walls of blood vessels themselves.

Chocolate manufacturers are naturally keen to emphasize all the positive aspects when promoting their heavenly confectionery.

However, given that their products are also choc-a-bloc with sugar as well as saturated and hydrogenated fats, they are being quite irresponsible.

These ingredients only serve to increase dietary risk factors for heart disease and obesity, not to mention PMS.

Always look at the labels: Products containing a minimum of 70 per cent or more cocoa solids are the healthiest. Whenever cocoa is listed after sugar and fat, it is best avoided.

If, like me, you cannot envisage life without the occasional chocolate fix but fancy a healthier source, try the chocolate-bake mix created by health practitioner Fran Gare.

Called Decadent Desserts, it makes wonderful brownies, cookies, cakes and ice cream. Or simply mix it with plain yoghurt.

Decadent Desserts does not contain sugar or grains that cause blood sugar reactions.

It is sweetened with xylitol, a substance found in fruit and vegetables and a healthier alternative to sugar or artificial sweeteners.

The Aztec Emperor Montezuma (1480-1520) said: "Chocolate is the divine drink which builds up resistance and fights fatigue. A cup of this precious drink permits a man to walk for a whole day without food."

Perhaps God knew what he was doing after all.

Decadent Desserts costs £14.29 for 12 oz. To order, contact The Nutrition Clinic on 0207 589 4394.

Martina is a qualified nutritionist at the Crescent Clinic of Complementary Medicine, 37 Vernon Terrace, Brighton. Tel: 01273 202221 or email: martina@thehealthbank.co.uk