Health benefits of chocolates
Not many realize that the chocolate that they eat provide some health benefits. Recently, the BBC News features in an the connection between dark chocolate and low blood pressure. Citing a study by The University of L'Aquila (L'Aquila, Italy), they also concluded that milk chocolate offers similar benefits.
A separate report by WCVB News (Boston) echoed these findings, giving the credit to an ingredient known as Flavonoids - found in all dark chocolate. In fact, the WCVB article also reported that chocolate can contribute to a healthy heart.
Dark Chocolate has certainly received a lot of good press recently, but is it really a breakthrough discovery? Are we the first generation of chocolate consumers to uncover this great secret? The answer is "No." In fact, the health benefits of dark chocolate were discovered centuries ago by the Aztecs, a Mexican empire that thrived in the 14th, 15th and 16th centuries.
You wouldn't recognize the chocolate prepared by the Aztec people. It was a cold, bitter drink with a variety of spices, having a watery texture and served with a swizzle stick. The Spanish word that is the root of "chocolate" translates to "food of the gods." The name tells us a lot about how the Aztecs coveted this drink - it was enjoyed by royalty alone. It was also enjoyed in remarkable proportions: Montezuma is reported to have consumed fifty pitchers per day. The Aztecs believed that the drink provided vitality, energy, and longevity.
About a century after the Aztecs discovered chocolate, Royalty in Spain and France adopted the idea. In the 19th century the drink was enjoyed in the same way as the Aztecs and the health benefits did not go unnoticed. Brillat-Savarin reflected the French national view of chocolate when he wrote: "Chocolate is one of the most effective restoratives. All those who have to work when they might be sleeping, men of wit who feel temporarily deprived of their intellectual powers, those who find the weather oppressive, time dragging, the atmoshere depressing; those who are tormented by some preoccupation which deprives them of the liberty of thought; let all such men imbibe a half liter of choclat ambre... and they will be amazed."
It is clear that we cannot give credit to modern scientists for discovering the health benefits of chocolate. However, we can appreciate the fact that the news is being brought to our attention. After all, it reminds us that we can enjoy our favorite treat knowing it's good for the body and perhaps also the mind. It's old news, but it's good news.