For the ancient cultures of the Americas,chocolate or cacao, was a sacred plant .Mesoamericans recognised the general properties of cacao( later called as cocoa) and used it to treat intestinal problems, to claim nerves, and as a stimulant.Cacao was mixed with maize and some other herbs to treat fever,shortness of breath,and heart palpitations. The flowers of this is used to fight against the fatigue. the butter of cacao,creamy fat in beans,soothed burns,irritated skin, and chapped lips.
Today studies show that cacao seeds contain more than 300 different chemical compounds.These include the stimulant caffeine as well as theo-bromine, an alkaloid that has a claiming effect on brain and an energising effect on the nervous system.Cacao also contains compounds that tend to reduce the depression and induce a slight sense of euphoria ,as well as acts as a powerful antioxidant that help to protect against cancer and heart diseases.Professionals recommend a daily “dose”of about an ounce(23.8 grams) and a half of dark chocolate for its cardiovascular benefits.
Health Benefits of Chocolate
A piece of chocolate, or at least dark chocolate, is good for you. Like red wine, chocolate contains powerful antioxidants, important for a healthy heart.
Chocolate for atherosclerosis
Chocolate appears to have numerous benefits for the blood and arteries. Several studies indicate that chocolate helps prevent blood platelets from sticking together, a hallmark of health troubles such as atherosclerosis.
- consumption of 100 g of dark chocolate had reduced platelet aggregation.
- Consumption of 40 g of dark chocolate a day decreased platelet adhesion and improved coronary vascular function.
Chocolate for improved blood pressure
In addition to preventing the blood platelets from sticking together, chocolate also seems to have a positive impact on people’s blood pressure.
when we take 3.5 ounces of dark chocolate every day for two weeks then saw a significant reduction in their blood pressure levels.
cocoa consumption 1/∝ blood pressure.
Chocolate and the brain
All the improved blood flow also appears to be good for brain functioning. One study found that drinking a cocoa beverage increased blood flow to the gray matter of the brain for up to three hours1. The results could be especially important for elderly people, for whom improved blood flow to the brain may protect against dementia and stroke1.
Chocolate and weight management
Chocolate can even help to improve weight management. The University of California, San Diego, questioned more than 1,000 healthy individuals about their chocolate consumption, as well as their diet and exercise habits. The people who ate chocolate regularly had a lower BMI, or body mass index, than their counterparts. In addition, the individuals who consumed chocolate on a regular basis had lower BMIs in spite of the of the fact that they did not exercise more than the non-chocolate consumer.
Chocolate decreases stroke risk
More than 45 grams of chocolate per week—about two bars worth—led to a 20 percent decrease in stroke risk among women. Chocolate contains flavonoids, whose antioxidant properties help fight strokes.