Oh, sweet Heavens! Chocolate, this secret guilty pleasure we all indulge ourselves in, is said to date almost 1500 years ago in Central America, a place where the Cocoa tree was growing without a care, soon becoming an icon in the very heart of the Mayan civilization. Nowadays, chocolate comes in all shapes, colors and flavors, bringing joy to people all over the world. And don’t think it’s only about the children. Chocolate is associated with romance, sensuality, psychological comfort sometimes, and it always makes the best gift ever. You may have heard that chocolate is better than sex, and studies show that… well… it may not be better but at least it gives similar result. This sweet, enticing product was motive for war, trigger for economic development, current issue in medical research and, at the end of the day, it will still remains one of our favorite spoils.
So from ancient times to the modern days, chocolate has both an interesting history and some special features you should be aware of before taking that bite and licking your fingers.
1. Drinking Liquid Chocolate Was a Common Wedding Ritual
The Mayans, besides freaking out modern civilization with their calendar and predictions, also gave the world liquid chocolate. They used to turn roasted cocoa beans into a smooth paste, flavored with hot spices in order to create a delicious drink. This was the ancient form of dark chocolate and it could be found also in Aztec civilization. And while every citizen of the Maya culture had free access to chocolate, the high priests and leaders used to drink the miraculous substance from specially designed pots. And one can’t help but wonder why drinking chocolate was a religious communion tradition for newly-wed couples… Endorphins maybe?
2. The Aphrodisiac of Gods
Aztec and Maya cultures shared a lot of similar traits, their love and appraisal for chocolate being one of them. Famous Montezuma Aztec leader is said he was drinking the magic godly liquid 50 times a day. While we cannot be 100% sure of this fact, it must hold some seed of truth, since chocolate indeed proved to have some aphrodisiac qualities. Montezuma believed the drink was keeping him fit for the entire day, gave him strength, kept him awake and energetic. And since this last Aztec leader got to live up to 64 years old, we may assume that the chocolate did its wonders along the way.
3. Chocolate Is the English Name for Xocolatl
Montezuma liked his energy drink so much, he gave it a name. Impossible to pronounce, the Spanish Conquistadors, along with the Mayan and Aztec civilization wipe-out, also took the time to enjoy their new-found (still bitter) favorite beverage and change its name to “Chocolat.” Talented traders, the Spanish practically introduce chocolate to the world. The other competing force in the world, the English, thought to add their personal touch too, putting the “e” at the end, since the Spanish have managed to already add sugar and cinnamon to make it more drinkable.
4. From the Gods to Hungry Peasants
By now, we reached the 16th century. A time when the Catholic Church was so powerful, it had a word to say on almost any matter. Also, the Spanish had enough time to realize that chocolate wasn’t just the trifle of an addict barbarian warrior. It had some health benefits and did improve some faulty states of mind and body, so the clergy initially thought to keep the medicine in confined spaces. Also, they noticed chocolate keeps one from being hungry for a significant period of time, so they slowly began to feed it to the people during advents. England was more open-minded though. A true gift from the gods was meant to be available for any mortal, so whoever could afford it, it could buy it. It soon became such a desirable product, it turned some smart London gentlemen into business men, as they opened their first chocolate shops for the public.
5. On the Battlefield!
Chocolate has known an interesting history and development. In France, it was a product meant only for royal heads, while it made its glorious passing through all European countries, leaving them with a crave and innovative ideas of making it more accessible. We owe chocolate’s solid form to the Dutch and its later combination with milk. By the time the First World War shook the planet, chocolate was as popular as any type of food, being delivered to soldiers on conflict areas, to keep them fed and energized.
But enough with the romantic history. The fascination people grew on chocolate also translated into some serious scientific research, come the modern ages. So this is what we know for a fact, while our ancestors guessed by experience:
6. Chocolate reduces high blood pressure
The natural cocoa beans contain a series of substances that regulate blood pressure. Dark chocolate, to be more specific, is full of “good substances” that decrease cholesterol, improve blood circulation, thus reducing the risk of cardiac arrest or stroke.
7. Chocolate improves your state of mind and general health
First of all, it contains magnesium, a natural brain stimulant and relaxant. Also, it contains vitamins (mostly from the B group) and also phosphor, iron and zinc. It helps to get a balanced metabolism and used properly, it can keep a person healthy for a very long time. Specialists day it should be really dark chocolate to add to your daily diet, as the other (all the same delicious) components, such as milk, sugar or flavors, may not be as healthy as we’d like to believe.
8. Chocolate contains some adrenaline-like substances
This is where the chocolate vs. sex dilemma comes in. In chocolate we can find two adrenaline-type substances, whose names are almost impossible to spell, but which, together, give the regular eater a peaceful, relaxed state of mind. The happiness neurotransmitters are thus enhanced in their general effect over the brain, leading to the pertinent question “was this chocolate good, or did I just had an orgasm?”
9. Treatment for wrinkles
We all heard the warnings against women eating sweets, not only because the sugary deposits are meant somehow to fatten them, but also because sweets are said to affect the skin and support the apparition of face wrinkles. In dark chocolate’s case, things are quite the opposite. Any nutrition specialist and every beautician will say the same: eating dark chocolate does in fact prevent wrinkles to emerge.
10. Fat? No way!
Yes, it is sweet, yes it contains fats and all sort of side components, but chocolate, in its dark form, contains “good” fats, natural ones. And while it has a lot of calories, it also has minerals and vitamins, so in all fairness, the risk to get fat on chocolate is less concerning that the risk of lacking essential substances in your system.