Seen as an invigorating drink, mood enhancer and aphrodisiac, chocolate is so much more than a naughty treat. The Aztecs thought that cacao seeds were the gift of the God of Wisdom, and a 16th century emperor Montezuma even drank three gallons of chocolate a day to increase his libido! In the 1500s, Spanish conquistadors returned from Mexico with chocolate and kept their savoury secret until 1615 when the Spanish king’s daughter wed King Louis XIII. She brought her love of chocolate with her to France and the secret was out! Fast forward 4,000 years and it’s a product that millions indulge in daily – according to Medical News Today the average American consumes on average 4.5kg a year!
So, with Easter approaching, and the shops teeming with the stuff is it bad for you, or are there any health benefits? The good news is yes – if you go for high cocoa content (which equals less sugar). In the Telegraph, Andrew Baker wrote that a 100g bar of dark (70% or more) choc provides 67% of the RDA of iron. Baker also wrote that chocolate contains phenylethylamine (PEA), which is the same chemical that your brain creates when you feel like you’re falling in love – now we’re talking! It can also lower your risk of stroke and help memory decline – important if you don’t want to forget where you’ve put your secret chocolate stash… but most surprising of all, there are claims that it can help you to lose weight! Neuroscientist Dr Will Clower told the Telegraph that a small square of good choc melted on the tongue 20 minutes before a meal triggers the hormones in the brain that say “I’m full”, cutting the amount of food you subsequently consume. Bingo!
Now Merlin have taken the guilt out of eating chocolate for you (you’re welcome!), there are plenty of activities for chocolate-lovers over this Easter, from drop-in chocolate making workshops at Brixton’s Chocolate Museum, to a proper Willy Wonka style tour around the Mast Brothers Chocolate Factory. Cadbury’s have joined up with the National Trust to offer Easter Egg Hunts at many of their lovely properties or for a perfect family day out, why not book your own private capsule on the Coca-Cola London Eye?
We’ll leave you with a bit of advice from Mel Gibson; ““After about 20 years of marriage I’m finally starting to scratch the surface of what women want, and I think the answer lies somewhere between conversation and chocolate”! Forget the conversation… chocolate will do nicely, thank-you very muchly!