Cultural reverance for chocolate has existed for centuries. Over the years, chocolate has been associated with decadence, luxury and relaxation. Cacao beans, which chocolate is made from, were so valuable that the Aztecs used them as a type of currency. Many Mesoamerican cultures considered chocolate to be magical and divine. The Smithsonian states that some historians believe that “evidence of chocolate consumption stretches back three or even four millennia.” Although it was known in many cultures as an exotic treat for the elite, there’s a much more biological reason why humans crave chocolate. Chocolate triggers a series of chemical responses when it is eaten. There are numerous health benefits of chocolate including:
- Reduced risk of stroke and heart attack
- Improved blood flow to the brain which results in higher concentration, mental clarity and memory function
- Increased production of serotonin and endorphins, which are hormones that regulate mood, sleep and other mental faculties
- Antioxidant support
It’s unnecessary (and possibly counter-productive) for you to stomp out all of your chocolate cravings with the attitude of a bootcamp sergeant. Allow yourself the occassional indulgence of dark chocolate, and receive the many benefits! When you find yourself craving chocolate and don’t want to bust the diet that you’ve worked so hard to stick to, remember three words: moderation, combination and purity:
Moderation Slowly eat a few small pieces of dark chocolate (the darker the better!) and focus on the flavors.
Combination Try combining your treat with some time just for you; read a good book, watch the sunrise or catch up on your favorite show. You may be craving the relaxing and reassuring health benefits of chocolate, which can be revved up by the added stress-reducing activity of your choice.
Purity Chocolate, in it’s purest form, is an invaluable gift. However, the many confections that it goes into are not. Ice cream, candies and beverages add extra sugar, fat and other ingredients which negate the health benefits of chocolate. Eat dark chocolate and avoid washing it down with milk, as some studies suggest that it interferes with chocolate’s beneficial properties.
It’s no wonder that we still experience lust over chocolate in modern times. Go ahead and give in a little, just remember moderation, combination and purity!
February 24th, 2011