A drink made from cocoa beans is said to have existed in Mexico 3,500 years ago. It is said that the Aztecs enjoyed a drink of cocoa processed with spices. The Spanish conquerors couldn't resist this drink and brought this miracle bean back to Europe.
Today, most conventional chocolate confectionery has a lot of added sugar to make it more palatable because pure cocoa is bitter in taste. Hence the assumption that chocolate, in general, is bad for us. However, many studies that have long proven the health benefits of cocoa refute this. Here are some of the beneficial effects of chocolate:
Sleep aid: Cocoa promotes serotonin formation. Also known as the happiness hormone, serotonin in turn controls the formation of the sleep hormone melatonin. A cocoa drink in the evening can actually help you fall asleep.
Happiness: Chocolate also contains the substance phenylethylamine which is otherwise only produced in the body when we are in love. Chocolate makes you happy after all!
Cough suppressant: Dark chocolate is said to contain a substance that is more effective against coughing than codeine. A low-calorie bar of chocolate a day can actually help with a cough.
Stress relief: Dark chocolate can help you cope better with stressful situations. Scientists suspect that this is due to so-called flavonoids, which are said to have a relaxing effect.
Healthy heart: Cocoa contains flavanol, which is said to have a beneficial effect on our blood vessels and even blood pressure. It is also possible that chocolate could help prevent heart attacks and strokes.
Weight loss aid: A study by the University of Granada found that subjects who eat chocolate more often were more likely to be slimmer than other participants, had lower BMI and smaller waistlines. However, the reason for this not (yet) clear.
So go ahead! Don't hesitate to satisfy your cravings for chocolate. If you are calorie-conscious but still want to enjoy the health benefits of chocolate, just have some dark chocolate with a low sugar content.