- Food and Cooking»
- Dessert Recipes
The History of Chocolate and Why It's Good For You
Chocolate Contains Beneficial Nutrients
Have you heard the good news? Eating chocolate can improve your health!
Dark chocolate loves your heart and that strong craving you feel for chocolate is actually a good thing after all. Chocolate contains the same antioxidants found in green tea that give you natural protection against cancer. How cool is that?
According to the Chocolate Manufacturers Association, dark chocolate has almost 10 times the antioxidants as found in strawberries, too. So, go ahead, and dip your strawberries in chocolate for an added health benefit, and enjoy!
Chocolate Contains Antioxidants
Antioxidants are believed to help the body's cells resist damage caused by free radicals that are formed by normal bodily processes, such as breathing, and from environmental contaminants, like cigarette smoke.
If your body does not have enough antioxidants to combat the amount of oxidation that occurs, it can become damaged by free radicals. For example, an increase in oxidation can cause low-density lipoprotein (LDL), also known as "bad" cholesterol, to form plaque on the artery walls.
Dark Chocolate contains enough antioxidants to classify it as a superfood!
The History of Chocolate
The cocoa tree is native to the rainforest areas of Central and South America and was first harvested by the ancient Mayans somewhere between 250 A.D and 900 A.D.
The Mayan people took the cocoa seeds and fermented, roasted and ground them in a paste that was mixed with water, cornmeal, and chili peppers. This made a bitter and spicy drink which played an important role in their religious and social lives. At that time, sugar was not discovered and so the strong spices were probably added to balance the bitter taste of the chocolate.
The ancient Mayans took their appreciation of chocolate very seriously and it's consumption was restricted to that of priests, honored individuals or royalty. As part of their religious services, the priests would offer cocoa seeds to their gods and servie chocolate drinks during sacred ceremonies.
The Aztecs Take Over
In the 1400s, the Aztecs gained power among the Mesoamerican tribes and used the seed from the cocoa tree as a form of trading currency, keeping large storehouses of cocoa beans.
When Columbus returned to Spain in the early 1500s he presented cocoa beans as a gift to the King of Spain, however, initially there was no interest in the bitter-tasting seed by the royal court.
Then, in 1528 the Spaniards introduced chocolate to Europe. They had learned to make it more to their liking by adding sugar, cinnamon and vanilla and with these new innovations cocoa quickly became a drink enjoyed for both its medicinal qualities and delicious taste.