For most of us, there are few things more indulgent than eating chocolate. It turns out, chocolate can be great for your health and your mood.
Chocolate’s origination is traceable as far back as the Olmec, Maya, and Aztec cultures. This delicious treat, was known as “food of the Gods” and used frequently in ancient rituals. These primitive cultures would roast and ground the bitter seeds contained within the cocoa fruit, which were then used in ceremonial drinks.
In these early days, cocoa/chocolate was used medicinally to reduce fever, alleviate shortness of breath, and calm the faint of heart. Chocolate was also known as a libido enhancer long before 1861 when Richard Cadbury packed heart-shaped boxes filled with chocolate for Valentine’s Day. As such, it was purported that chocolate was used to increase fertility in those who were otherwise known to be infertile.
Over the centuries, chocolate spread throughout Europe and America evolving into all the varieties we know and love today. The good news is that studies have shown that two compounds found in chocolate, phenethylamine and N-acylethanolamine, have both aphrodisiac and mood-lifting effects. Additionally, the cocoa contained in the chocolate is a good source of antioxidant flavenoids known as epicatechin, catechin, and procyanidins.
However, not all chocolates are created equal. With such an assortment of chocolate to choose from, it’s difficult to find one that has a both a pleasant mood-enhancing effect, and antioxidant benefit without a tremendous amount of fat, sugar, and calories.
Consider the percentage of cocoa found in the darker chocolate varieties. The darker the chocolate, the better. Choose a dark chocolate that contains at least 60% cocoa and enjoy. Of course, as with everything, enjoy in moderation – if you can!