Chocolate & Health and Nutrition
Today chocolate is rarely regarded as a health food. Full of saturated fat and sugar many chocolates are said to contribute to high blood pressure and obesity if eaten on a regular basis. However, chocolate has been used for centuries as a cure for a wide range of ailments, including hangovers and a cure for fatigue. Historically, Christopher Ludwig Hoffmann recommended using chocolate for many diseases, citing it as a cure for Cardinal Richelieu's ills.
From before the Spanish Conquest, cocoa and chocolate have been prescribed by doctors for an array of ailments and diseases, from dysentery to “decayed health, weak lungs or scorbutic (scurvy) tendencies”. Both cocoa and chocolate were prescribed as remedies for these problems. For dysentery, it was recommended that sufferers mix a little cocoa powder with water and the crushed bones of ones ancestors. For decayed health, weak lungs or scurvy, fortunately a more palatable chocolate bar was normally prescribed as the cure.
Doctors no longer prescribe chocolate as a cure for ills and it is neither regarded as ‘medicinal’. It is now more likely to be associated with being overweight, causing acne, triggering migraines and causing diabetes. However, despite being a contributory factor to modern ills, it can still pose a valuable treat to have in our medicine cabinets.
Modern AilmentsChocolate is not just a sweet treat that fixes a craving and makes you fat. Dark chocolate in particular is packed full of antioxidants and can help detoxify your body. Next time you get ill, consider using chocolate as a remedy. It is thought that a chocolaty drink will prevent and cure an upset stomach. A face pack of melted chocolate will leave your skin velvety smooth and moisturised.
Miracle CureAbout 70% of the world’s population is intolerant of dairy products (anything containing lactose). Dairy products can cause sufferers’ intestines to seize up, leading to diarrhoea and abdominal pain. Lactose intolerant people are deficient in lactase, which is naturally found in most people. Lactase is needed to digest dairy products. However, when added to milk, chocolate helps counteract lactose intolerance and can even block the cramping and bloating caused by the seizing of the intestines. This is because chocolate can help stimulate enzymes in the body, and can increase lactase activity by up to 600%. Simply stirring 1tsp of pure cocoa and a little sugar into a mug of milk can aid digestion.
Healthy HeartIf eaten in moderation, it is thought chocolate can also reduce blood clots and lessen the risk of heart disease and strokes. However to feel the effect you should eat dark chocolate, as large amounts of milk chocolate (which contains lots of fat and sugar) can increase your risk of strokes and heart disease.
Luxury ChocolateLuxury chocolate is better for you than cheaper chocolate. Most cheap chocolate is made from less than twenty percent chocolate solids, and contains much more fat and sugar. Therefore, if you have a chocolate craving, you will need to eat more of the cheaper chocolate to satisfy your craving. However, if you eat high quality chocolate (with more cocoa solids and less sugar and fat), your craving will be satisfied much more quickly, sparing you the extra consumption of sugar and fat.
VitaminsChocolate has exceptional nutritional qualities, containing carbohydrates, fats, and vegetable proteins. It also contains potassium and magnesium, calcium and sodium. Vitamins present in chocolate include vitamins A1, B1, B2, D, and E.
Eaten in moderation, chocolate can increase your health. It is packed full of antioxidants, vitamins and minerals and can even reduce risk of strokes and heart disease. However, many chocolates eaten today have low levels of cocoa solids and have higher levels of fat and sugar instead. Therefore cheaper chocolate can be causing more ham to your body than good.