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The goodness of Chocolate

 

Chocolate is fun, tasty and often a luxury.

One of the most popular treats in the world, we have a love-hate relation with it. As kids we have quarreled with our parents for a bar of chocolate, and in our flashy teens we avoided it for various reasons like fear of tooth decay, acnes and pimples and growing overweight. Most of us still do. Is chocolate all that bad after all?

Chocolate is made from the seeds of the tropical tree, Theobroma cacao. Theobroma in Greek means 'food of the gods.' In Aztec society cacao beans were used to make a hot, frothy and bitter beverage called chocolatl. Chocolatl was a sacred concoction that was associated with fertility and wisdom and was a food of the gods, reserved for priests, warriors and nobility. The bitter drink was first introduced to Europe in 1528. Only in 1876 milk, cocoa powder and cocoa butter were combined to form what we know today as chocolate.

Today, chocolate contains over more than 300 chemicals and has been the subject of a number of studies by universities and other scientific organizations. There are dozens of different types of chocolate and these can range from milk, dark and white chocolate through to chocolate defined by its percentage of cocoa content. So far the researches have shown that, if you choose your chocolate wisely, you may actually benefit from them.

The benefits of chocolates on:

Your mood:

Many people, especially women and emotional eaters restore to chocolates to calm to their moods. It is believed that the smell of chocolate may increase theta brain waves, resulting in relaxation. Also chocolate contains phenyl ethylamine, a mild mood elevator and the carbohydrates in chocolate raise serotonin levels in the brain, resulting in a sense of well-being. If you are watching your weight, a cup of hot chocolate before meals may actually diminish that enormous appetite of yours.

Your health:

The cocoa butter in chocolate contains oleic acid; a mono-unsaturated fat which may raise good cholesterol and the flavanoids in chocolate may help keep blood vessels elastic.

Maybe thus it has been observed that men who eat chocolate live a year longer than those who don't. Chocolates are also known to increases antioxidant levels in the blood which helps our body fight diseases.

The detriments of chocolate are,

  • Although Cacao, the source of chocolate, contains antibacterial agents that fight tooth decay, it is counteracted by the high sugar content of milk chocolate.
     
  • Migraine sufferers are to avoid chocolates as they may trigger headaches.
     
  • Milk chocolate is rich in calories, saturated fat and sugar.

Our favorite treat is not without its myths though. Here are some of the misconceptions that many have regarding the effects of chocolates.

- Contrary to the belief chocolates are not a causative factor in acne.

- Many people are also of the disbelief that chocolate is addictive, that chocolate causes physical and psychological dependency. However this is yet to be proven.

- Cacao contains the stimulants caffeine and bromine, but in such small quantities that they don't cause nervous excitability.

- Chocolate doesn't make you 'high'. To gain any noticeable form of effect, you'd need to eat a huge quantity (about 25lbs at one sitting).

So in the end our beloved chocolate seems to be safe enough for all ages. Go ahead and dig in.

 
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