Unlocking the ancient wisdom of the Aztecs, we delve into the intriguing world of chocolate as a medicinal marvel. For centuries, this delectable delight has been revered not only for its indulgent flavor but also for its remarkable healing properties.
The History Of Cacao/Chocolate
The medicinal use of cacao, or chocolate, both as a primary remedy and as a vehicle to deliver other medicines, originated in the New World and diffused to Europe in the mid 1500s. These practices originated among the Olmec, Maya and Mexica (Aztec).
Early colonial era documents included instructions for the medicinal use of cacao. The Badianus Codex (1552) noted the use of cacao flowers to treat fatigue, whereas the Florentine Codex (1590) offered a prescription of cacao beans, maize and the herb tlacoxochitl to alleviate fever and panting of breath and to treat the faint of heart.
Subsequent 16th to early 20th century manuscripts produced in Europe and New Spain revealed over 100 medicinal uses for cacao/chocolate.
Three consistent roles can be identified:
- Treat emaciated patients to gain weight.
- Stimulate nervous systems of apathetic, exhausted or feeble patients.
- Improve digestion and elimination where cacao/chocolate countered the effects of stagnant or weak stomachs, stimulated kidneys and improved bowel function.
- Additional medical complaints treated with chocolate/cacao have included anemia, poor appetite, mental fatigue, poor breast milk production, consumption/tuberculosis, fever, gout, kidney stones, reduced longevity and poor sexual appetite/low virility.
Chocolate paste was a medium used to administer drugs and to counter the taste of bitter pharmacological additives. In addition to cacao beans, preparations of cacao bark, oil (cacao butter), leaves and flowers have been used to treat burns, bowel dysfunction, cuts and skin irritations.
Numerous scientific investigations reveal that dark chocolate brims with essential nutrients that can significantly impact your overall well-being. Before we delve into the myriad health benefits, let’s address an important caveat.
While chocolate offers a plethora of advantages, it regrettably contains high levels of calories derived from fat and sugar. Consequently, it is ill-advised to replace all your vegetable and fruit snacks with chocolate. As with many aspects of life, moderation is key to reaping the rewards without adverse consequences.
For optimal results, always opt for dark chocolate with the highest cocoa content, preferably at least 70%. Dark chocolate boasts a wealth of polyphenols and flavanols, which function as antioxidants, safeguarding your body against damage inflicted by harmful free radicals.
Raw, unrefined cocoa also harbors epicatechins, another potent antioxidant; however, due to its bitter taste, it is frequently removed from commercially available chocolate.
The Healing Powers of Dark Chocolate
- Dark Chocolate Enhances Cognitive Function:
Believe it or not, studies demonstrate that individuals who enjoy a steaming cup of hot chocolate before bedtime experience improved brain performance over time. This is attributed to the heightened blood flow in both the brain and heart, leading to enhanced cognitive abilities.
- Dark Chocolate Preserves Youthfulness:
Abundant in antioxidants, dark chocolate combats cellular damage resulting from toxins and aging-associated free radicals. By incorporating chocolate into your diet, you can maintain a youthful and healthy appearance.
- Dark Chocolate Supports Cardiac Health:
Research indicates that regular consumption of dark chocolate contributes to lower blood pressure, improved blood circulation, and a reduced risk of blood clots. By indulging in dark chocolate three times a week, you can strengthen your heart and promote cardiovascular well-being.
- Dark Chocolate Elevates Mood:
Chocolate has been scientifically proven to elevate mood, induce calmness, and foster relaxation. These psychological benefits are as significant as its physical advantages, offering an explanation for the popular craving for chocolate during moments of stress or despair.
- Dark Chocolate: A Nutrient Powerhouse:
Chocolate contains an array of essential vitamins and minerals that promote overall health. Noteworthy elements include potassium, copper, magnesium, and iron, all present in substantial quantities. These nutrients provide protection against ailments such as stroke, anemia, high blood pressure, and type 2 diabetes.
- Lower Cholesterol Levels:
Regular consumption of dark chocolate may aid in reducing cholesterol levels. Its powerful antioxidants shield LDL cholesterol from oxidation and prevent damage to arteries.
- Alleviate Cough with Hot Raw Chocolate:
Theobromine, a component found in chocolate, possesses soothing properties that can relieve cough symptoms, akin to the effects of codeine. Soothe your throat with a comforting cup of almond milk infused with raw cocoa when plagued by a persistent cough.
- Reduce Blood Pressure:
Flavanols present in dark chocolate contribute to arterial relaxation, resulting in reduced blood flow and lowered blood pressure.
- Alleviate Stress Levels:
Magnesium, abundantly found in dark chocolate, elicits a sense of happiness and well-being, elevating one’s spirits. Moreover, compounds present in dark chocolate aid in lowering cortisol levels, promoting relaxation of both the body and mind.
- Safeguard Your Skin with Dark Chocolate:
Flavonoids inherent in dark chocolate offer protection against UV damage, fortifying your skin. However, it is crucial to note that dark chocolate should not replace conventional sunscreen when venturing outdoors.
- Natural Pain Relief:
Indulging in chocolate prompts the body to release endorphins, which possess calming and pain-relieving properties, offering a natural form of pain relief.
As previously stated, if you required any further justification, rest assured that enjoying chocolate in moderation is a gratifying and guilt-free experience, considering the remarkable benefits it bestows upon your body.
In conclusion, chocolate lovers can rejoice in the knowledge that their favorite treat, particularly dark chocolate with high cocoa content, offers a myriad of health benefits.
From enhancing cognitive function and preserving youthfulness to promoting heart health and elevating mood, dark chocolate proves to be a natural medicine with remarkable properties.
Packed with antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals, it provides essential nutrients and protection against various ailments. Furthermore, dark chocolate’s ability to lower cholesterol, alleviate cough, reduce blood pressure, relieve stress, protect the skin, and act as a natural painkiller further solidifies its status as a versatile and enjoyable indulgence.