Chocolate is acknowledged as a prehistoric delicacy. That’s something we can’t contradict. Ever since 1900 BC, pre-Columbian populations have produced chocolate.
The cocoa beans were fermented, afterward roasted and ground into a paste. After that, they would combine it with water and other ingredients such as chili and vanilla. To sweeten it, they would use bee honey.
In the 14th century, chocolate has become genuinely valuable, that the Aztecs began using chocolate as currency. Starting with the 17th century, chocolate was so appreciated for its therapeutic properties, that the Europeans used it in treating chest pain – angina, and heart conditions.
Unfortunately, with time, chocolate has been transformed into an unhealthy desert, once sugar and milk were introduced in its preparation in 1847.
The greater majority of benefits chocolate has are due to its richness in antioxidants. The bitter-sweet taste it has, is, in fact, linked to these antioxidants. Nearly 400 distinctive polyphenols have been discovered in raw cocoa beans.
What type of chocolate should we opt for?
Nutritionists advise us that, whenever we purchase chocolate, we should choose one that has a higher content of cocoa – above 70 percent. The higher the cocoa content, the bitter the chocolate.
Chocolate producers have managed to replace cocoa’s bitter flavor with sugar, to make it more appealing to the public. But a chocolate’s bitterness is what makes it healthy for us.
Milk chocolate contains very little cocoa and a lot of sugar. Plus, milk may prevent your body from absorbing the antioxidants present in the chocolate. White chocolate is a contradiction, as it doesn’t contain a trace of cocoa. It’s only a mixture of sugar and pasteurized milk.
Cocoa contains two distinctive substances that protect the nervous cells from cerebral damage – epicatechin and resveratrol, both having anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties.
Normal Hollenberb – a medicine professor at Harvard University – has developed thorough studies on the population in Panama, where cocoa is consumed in large quantities. He suggested that epicatechin should be considered a vitamin. Panama inhibitors present a lower risk of cerebral accident, cardiac insufficiency, cancer, and diabetes.
Resveratrol has a range of neuroprotective compounds as well, preventing neurodegenerative diseases and the inflammation of the nervous system.
Numerous studies have confirmed that chocolate and cocoa present notable benefits on the brain, blood vessels, heart, and nervous system. Concurrently, these ingredients reduce insulin resistance, diminish blood pressure and cholesterol, while ensuring the blood vessels’ elasticity.
Cocoa beans have a greater antioxidant capacity even than red wine and green tea. The compounds present in cocoa beans protect us from diseases caused by oxidative stress and inflammation.
A 2013 study published in Netherlands Journal of Medicine suggests that chocolate/cocoa may be considered a complete ingredient. It contains healthy fat, antioxidants, minerals – magnesium, zinc, iron, potassium, having the following properties:
- Eyesight protective
- Liver protective