10 Things you didn’t know about Chocolate

Ama Kade, Kuapa farmer - Divine Chocolate / Pete Pattisson

Ama Kade, Kuapa farmer - Divine Chocolate / Pete Pattisson

From stopping you coughing, reducing your blood pressure or making you happy, chocolate really is the food of Gods. Here’s our top 10 things you didn’t know about chocolate…

Chocolate stops a cough. If you’re suffering from winter colds and flus, take comfort in the fact that eating chocolate can help combat persistent coughing. Studies have revealed that the alkaloid theobromine found in chocolate can be better than codeine, frequently used in leading cough medicines, to stop a cough.
Chocolate is less addictive than coffee. Contrary to popular belief, chocolate is not high in caffeine and instead contains mild amounts. You would have to eat ten chocolate bars to get the same amount of caffeine as you find in a single cup of coffee.
Chocolate can reduce your blood pressure. Dark chocolate is high in flavonoids – found in the skin of cacao beans as well as grapes and citrus fruits. These antioxidant-rich compounds have been found to have beneficial cardiovascular properties and can reduce blood pressure – but it must be dark chocolate.
Handmade chocolate can be healthier. Antioxidant properties can be superior in artisan-produced chocolate – such as brands like Booja Booja – than factory produced. A recent study showed this was probably due to the better preserving of bioactive components in the cacao beans with artisan-made chocolate.
Chocolate fights fatigue. Cacao beans have been used for centuries to make drinks, like today’s hot chocolate. One bitter and spicy drink, called Xocoatl by the Mayas and Aztecs, was often used to fight fatigue. The energy boost is usually attributed to theobromine and explains those late afternoon cravings for a chocolate bar.
Chocolate is better sucked. Chocolate starts to melt at 34 degrees C – the temperature of the human body – explaining why it deliciously and harmoniously melts in your mouth improving the chocolate-eating sensation.
Chocolate makes you happy, but won’t make you feel ‘in love’. It is well known that eating chocolate both affects levels of serotonin in the brain and stimulates the hypothalamus producing pleasurable effects, but previous studies that thought eating chocolate could mimic feelings of being in love – attributed to the occurance of phenylethylamine – have since been disproved.
Too much chocolate can reduce your sex drive. The downside of chocolate affecting the pleasure-inducing serotonin is that too much serotonin can be converted to melatonin, which reduces the sex drive. Another reason to consume everything in moderation.
Chocolate is sensitive. Look after your chocolate with care. Storing it next to strong flavours such as bananas can impair the flavour as it easily absorbs odours. For perfection, store it between 15 and 17 degrees C and keep it in the dark. Extreme temperatures can change the texture and if you place it in the fridge without wrapping, it can develop white blotches.
Cultivation of cacao is 500 years old than first thought. Although the use of cacao has been known to date to ancient civilizations, last year archaeologists found evidence to push the date of the oldest known cultivation back 500 years in Honduras to somewhere between 1100 and 1400 BC. A food grown for so long really has to be good.

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