Often in the media, we come across different information about the health aspects and nutritional value of chocolate. For most of us, enjoying chocolate is a moment of pleasure, our special sweet ritual. Throughout centuries and ancient civilizations, to this day, there are different theories. Is chocolate a cure or a myth? Chocolate and health, yes or no !?
Ancient civilizations considered it a cure!
Ancient civilizations Mayans and Aztecs believed that cocoa beverage had a positive effect on health. The first evidence that cocoa powder was used for medical purposes dates back to the 4th century when the Mayans began growing cocoa. It was their warriors who used cocoa powder for a stimulant drink used before combat or a wound healing balm.
Discovering and transferring chocolate as a beautiful drink to Europe has led to different theories as to how healthy it really is. On the one hand, there was an opinion that chocolate was an opiate and an aphrodisiac. Therefore, it was not recommended to women and children until the 14th century. On the other hand, there was an opinion that chocolate was a love drink. As such, it has been used to help women become pregnant more efficiently and also as a means of relieving pregnancy itself.
In the 17th century, the glory of chocolate was raised by botanists, who discovered that cocoa contained very healthy elements. It is lamented that an Italian chocolate doctor wrote: “Chocolate has not only a pleasant taste; it is also a pure mouth balm, to maintain the health of all glands and moods. Therefore, everyone who drinks it has a sweet smell. Several of his contemporaries claimed that chocolate is an excellent cure for tuberculosis. Also after working hard, it restores energy, strengthens the heart and reduces the risk of pneumonia. There have been opinions that chocolate resolves love ills and heals the soul from a “broken heart.”
However, there were different opinions. In the 18th century, it was claimed that chocolate causes side effects in children. In the next century, chocolate found its use as a cure for hangover, syphilis, hemorrhoids, and diarrhea. By the end of the 19th century, this sweet treat began to be used for medical purposes. It was used by public hospitals, sanatoriums, and the military.
Chocolate and health are a great path to good health
Over the past decades, various studies have shown that cocoa and chocolate have beneficial health properties. First of all, cocoa shows a significant benefit to the cardiovascular system, helping to reduce the risk of heart and stroke, high blood pressure, and cancer. Chocolate contains flavanols – a type of antioxidant that occurs naturally in cocoa. The action of these antioxidants can remove harmful free radicals in the body and help protect their own. High intake of antioxidant-rich foods, such as cocoa, is associated with a reduced risk of death from heart disease.
Besides to, chocolate contains several alkaloids – organic elements that naturally occur in plants – that have a stimulating effect on our bodies. The most important of these is theobromine, which has a diuretic effect. Although it increases heart rate, it also dilates blood vessels, thereby reducing blood pressure. Also, theobromine is useful in the treatment of asthma because it relaxes smooth muscles, including those found in the bronchi. All this confirms that enjoying chocolate has the effect of improving our mood. Cocoa is primarily responsible for the secretion of neurotransmitters popularly known as the hormones of happiness: serotonin and dopamine. This means that chocolate has antidepressant properties.
If we start from the nutritional properties of chocolate, we will conclude that in moderation, we can enjoy it. Chocolate is mostly made up of carbohydrates, fats, and proteins, and is also a good source of minerals like calcium, magnesium, iron, and zinc. Calcium affects bone health, magnesium helps us divert energy from what we eat, iron stimulates the carrying of oxygen to the brain, and zinc in speeding up the healing process after an injury.
We will write more about the nutritional value of chocolate at the next opportunity. You will forgive us. This much research has just crossed our favorite chocolate. Speaking of which, it’s not a bad read, too, about chocolate addiction.