The unending story of chocolate begins with cocoa trees that grew wild in the tropical rainforests of the Amazon basin and other areas in Central and South America for thousands of years. The Maya Indians and the Aztecs were the first ones to recognise the value of cocoa beans. The word ‘chocolate’ is actually derived from The Aztec word, ‘Xocolatl’, which means ‘bitter water’. Back in the day, chocolate was praised for its medicinal properties. It was used as an energy drink and to cure diseases like jaundice, coughs, indigestion and gout problems. Since then people have loved the cocoa beans for the sweet delicacy it yields. From German chocolate cake to Swiss cocoa, people around the world enjoy chocolate in thousands of different forms, consuming more than 3 million tons of cocoa beans annually.
Throughout its evolution, one thing has remained constant—chocolate has never lacked attention and is considered as the “food of the gods.” With Valentine’s Day 2017 round the corner, these age old patrons of love are one of the most celebrated gifts to give your favourite person. We all agree, there’s nothing like chocolate that melts our heart except for your valentine, obviously. Chocolate is not just a sweet treat but also comes with a whole package of benefits. Here are seven reasons why chocolate is more than just a gift for your loved ones.
1.A great aphrodisiac
During the 16th century, the Aztec Emperor, Montezuma is known to have had a rich chocolate drink, from gold cups, about fifty times each day to pep up his sexual ability. A research suggests that when someone is in love, the brain produces a chemical called phenyl ethylamine (PEA). It was found that chocolates contain this same ‘love-drug’, known to trigger romantic trysts.
2.Acts as an antidepressant
Dark chocolates are known to stimulate the production of endorphins, a chemical that sparks a feeling of euphoria. It also contains the feel-good chemical, serotonin that acts as an antidepressant. It is known to alter the functions of the brain that positively affects our mood. Dark chocolates are credited with raising the serotonin levels in the brain.
3.Full of antioxidants
Cocoa beans are naturally loaded anti-oxidant nutrients called flavonoids. These flavonoids have been creating some noise recently. It has been proven that the anti-oxidant activity of cocoa beans is equal to or higher than most super-foods like acai berry, blueberry, cranberry, and pomegranate. The flavonoids are known to boost brain power, increase arterial blood flow, prevent clotting and promote healthy heart functions. They enable our body to produce nitric oxide that may help in lowering blood pressure.
4.Keeps your heart happy and healthy
The flavanols in dark chocolate can stimulate the endothelium, the lining of arteries, to produce Nitric Oxide (NO), which is a gas. One of the functions of NO is to send signals to the arteries to relax, which lowers resistance to blood flow and therefore reducing blood pressure and keeping the heart healthy.
5.Makes your skin glow
The bioactive compounds in chocolate are also great for your skin. The flavonols can protect against sun-induced damage, improve blood flow to the skin and increase skin density and hydration.
6.Boosts brain power
Dark chocolate may also improve the function of the brain. One study of healthy volunteers showed that 5 days of consuming high-flavanol cocoa improved blood flow to the brain. Cocoa may also significantly improve cognitive function in elderly people with mental impairment. It also improves verbal fluency and several risk factors for disease.
7. A dark seduction for the diet conscious
Nibble on that dark chocolate bar without a guilty aftertaste. Research proves that dark chocolates have a high satiety value and therefore they make you feel full for a longer time. They are packed with MUFA’S (monounsaturated fatty acids) that are known to boost your metabolism and burn fat. When eaten in moderate (!) quantities, dark chocolate is known to slower the digestion process and curb cravings.
With so many benefits of chocolate along with its irresistible flavour, it had to be the most favourite choice of gift for our dear ones