By Beth Diane Bradley
My favorite food has a past — and some of it is not pretty. It can shape shift from a Santa to a bunny or a coin – or whatever people seem to want at the moment. Chocolate can be cute and clever for sure. But it hasn’t always been that way.
The Mayans and Aztecs used it as a beverage, often in sacred rituals. In her book The Chocolate Connoisseur, Chloe Doutre-Roussel explains the Aztecs gave a gourd of chocolate mixed with the blood of previous victims to the “chosen ones” to encourage them to participate in ritual dancing before their sacrifice.
The Smithsonian Magazine reports that In America, during the Revolutionary War, chocolate was considered equal to money, and was paid to the soldiers as part of their wages.
And in World War II, the Nazi’s designed an exploding chocolate bar intended to assassinate Winston Churchill, who was known for his sweet tooth, as illustrated in The Daily Mail.com.
But a few bon bons later, chocolate took on a new, more clean-cut image, leaving it’s sordid history behind.
We are rarely told something we love to eat is actually good for us. Bacon is still waiting for redemption. But there has been a lot of research in recent years about the many health benefits of chocolate, now called a super food for lowering our risk of everything from heart attacks and strokes to diabetes.
In fact, the one dessert that is approved by Dr. Andrew Weil happens to be dark chocolate. It may not be a coincidence I have a son named Andrew.
A chocolate bar has five times the flavonoids of an apple. So much for the old adage “an apple a day keeps the doctor away.” Apples are now optional, chocolate is not. As far as I’m concerned, it never has been.
And for those of us who experience an occasional senior moment, an article in Medical News Today reports that chocolate may prevent memory decline by increasing the blood flow to the brain.
They go on to say that people who ate chocolate were 22% less likely to suffer a stroke than those who didn’t, and those who had a stroke but regularly ate chocolate were 46 percent less likely to die as a result — unless of course, they grabbed the chocolate bar that is really a bomb.