Even the ancient Mayans and Aztecs loved chocolate. They used it to treat fevers, seizures and skin infections, and it was part of religious and royal festivals. The Aztecs even collected taxes in the form of cocoa beans from lands they conquered. Chocolate made its way to Europe after the discovery of America and has since found its place, as the most popular form of candy across the world.
It’s not all about taste though; eating chocolate has many health benefits, according to modern scientific research. Cleveland Clinic says eating chocolate stimulates your brain to make opiods, giving you a psychological mood-boost similar to the happy sensation of being in love. Perhaps that’s why French doctors in the 1700s used it to mend broken hearts. It also slows down memory decline.
The antioxidant-like flavinoids in chocolate help to lower blood pressure and cholesterol, so regular intake has a positive effect on coronary and circulation disorders. The common myth that chocolate causes acne is just that – a myth; scientific studies have found no link between the two, though it’s true that chocolate can trigger migraine headaches in some people.
The real culprits in chocolate bars are fat and sugar, added on to enhance the flavour. Dark chocolate is the healthiest. Professor Mary Engler of the University of California recommends that you should eat bars that have at least 70% cocoa in them. White chocolate is technically called chocolate because the main ingredient is cocoa butter, but it doesn’t have any cocoa solids in it which give chocolate its colour.
Before you head to the store to stock up on the chocolate, it’s good to remember that balance is key. Nutritionists recommend that you restrict your intake to two to four squares a day for getting the most out of it, and do remember that darkest is best.