Throughout history chocolate or cacao (Kah Kow) has been used as currency, tribute, a status symbol and an energy booster during fasting. Different cultures had legends that chocolate was good for strength, health, faith and passion.
Many historical figures used chocolate for its aphrodisiac properties. Among them were
- Montezuma – who consumed 50 cups per day and one more prior to romantic encounters
- Casanova – drank chocolate daily before his amorous encounters
- Marquis de Sade – laced chocolate with Catharsis (spanish fly) to increase lust
The St Valentine’s Day tradition of sending chocolate came about because the properties of chocolate were said to seduce your lovers heart. Now science is reporting that it may actually protect their heart!
Modern researchers have discovered that chocolate contains oleic acid and mono-unsaturated fat which is the same fat found in olive oil and is believed to raise good cholesterol levels. Chocolate also contains
In addition chocolate has been found to contain flavanoids which also occur in fruits, vegetables, red wine and tea. It is thought that flavanoids have a beneficial effect on cardiovascular health. In addition to flavanoids chocolate also contains anti-oxidants which help prevent or delay damage to the body.
Milk chocolate is traditionally the preferred chocolate. It does include all of the heart healthy qualities. Unfortunately it is also high in saturated fat, sugar and calories none of which are included in the heart healthy list.
Each pound of milk chocolate contains
- 2300 calories
- 140 grams of fat
- 100 milligrams of cholesterol
- 370 milligrams of sodium
- 270 grams of carbohydrates
- 31 grams of protein
The highest chocolate consumption in the world takes place in Europe. Sixteen of the top twenty highest consumers are European with Switzerland being number one. Although the United States is number eleven in consumption chocolate is the favourite flavour in North America.
- 71% of North Americans prefer milk chocolate
- 66% of chocolate is consumed between meals
- 22% of chocolate consumption takes place between 8pm and midnight
- more chocolate is consumed in the winter than any other season
Dark chocolate with a minimum of 70% cacao solids is the chocolate that is thought include the favourable health benefits. Each 101 gram serving contains
- 605 calories
- 25 grams of saturated fat
- 2 milligrams of cholesterol
- 20 milligrams of sodium
- 46 grams of carbohydrate
- 11 grams of fibre
- 24 grams of sugar
- 8 grams of protein
A recent study asked men and women 55 to 64 to eat a one hundred gram bar of dark chocolate a day for two weeks. They were also asked to cut out a similar amount of calories and nutrients. Those that consumed the chocolate had a significant decrease in blood pressure.
The key to eating dark chocolate for your health seems to be moderation. Consuming large quantities of dark chocolate for your health will still increase your calorie intake and add to any pre-existing weight issues.
Chocolate and Love
Sending the one you love a gift of dark chocolate will let them know that you care about them in many ways. The obvious health benefits reported daily in the news will let them know that you want to keep them healthy so they will be around for a long time.
Although there is no concrete proof of the aphrodisiac properties of chocolate, a gift of chocolates to your love tells them in no uncertain terms that you desire them.
Chocolate and love have always had a correlation. It is only recently that the scientific world is telling us what lovers for centuries have always known. Chocolate and the heart go together!
Originally published on Suite101.com