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   Chocolate seduction

Delicious, delectable, soothing Chocolate was a New World discovery, one of the most sought-after treasures brought back to Europe from the new land across the Atlantic.
Eating chocolate, simply makes us feel good and evoke pleasurable emotions. Chocolate bars, milk shakes, cookies, flavored coffee-even cereal and medicine! Chocolate is a key ingredient in many foods. In fact, it ranks as the favorite flavour of many people.
Chocolate, in moderate amounts, can actually be good for you! This is great news for people who love sweets but are trying to eat healthy.

There are real  health benefits of chocolate. Dark chocolate is a healthy chocolate. These are some chocolate health benefits:

Blood pressure: Dark chocolate has been proven in studies to lower blood pressure and is considered healthy chocolate. The same is not true of milk chocolate or white chocolate. If you eat dark chocolate to lower your blood pressure, you have to balance other calories in your diet.

Heart disease: Dark chocolate has been shown to actually increase cardiovascular health and is also a potent antioxidant because it contains flavonoids (phenolic compounds), the same as red wine. It is believed that flavonoids protect against or slow down heart disease, decreasing platelet activity and coagulation. Even though chocolate contains a saturated fat called stearic acid, it does not appear to be a factor in raising cholesterol. Flavanol in dark chocolate makes a difference.

The monounsaturated fat in chocolate, oleic acid, is also found in olive oil. It can lower LDL and total cholesterol levels in the blood.

Antioxidant content: Cocoa contains a large amount of antioxidants. Antioxidants balance and neutralize free radicals in the human organism which are at the source of the visible signs of aging. For this reason dark chocolate is considered very good for health as the content of cocoa is rich in antiaging antioxidants. The more the chocolate is diluted with milk the lesser and more refined the cocoa content is and the lesser amounts of these most powerful antioxidants the cocoa contains.

Smokers: A small study conducted in Sweden and published in the journal Heart found that if smokers eat a small amount of dark chocolate, their artery function improves within hours. If they eat a few squares of dark chocolate a day they may reduce their risk of developing hardening of the arteries.

Chronic fatigue syndrome: Some chronic fatigue is caused by stress, long working hours, or personal problems. Chronic fatigue syndrome is an illness with primary symptoms that include sleep problems, muscle and joint pain, inability to think straight, fatigue, and headaches. Depression is also a symptom in many patients and alternative therapies are being considered, including chocolate health benefits that can relieve chronic fatigue, helping people with this illness.

Chocolate is a good source of essential minerals: copper, magnesium, phosphorus and calcium.

Chocolate is a plant-based food, and contains many nutrients found in other plant foods.

Contrary to popular belief, chocolate contains only a limited amount of caffeine. An average chocolate contains about 10 mg of caffeine, while one cup of coffee contains 100 mg.

So enjoy chocolate!

The Origins of Cacao
The story of chocolate spans more than 2,000 years and now circles the globe.

Cacao (kah kao), from which chocolate is created, is one of more than twenty two species from the grouping Theobroma that grew millions of years ago in South America , at least 4,000 years ago. It probably originated both in the Amazon River Basin and in the foothills of the Andes , what is now known as Peru . From there it spread north into Central America and Mexico .

Before the new world was discovered, the cocoa tree was cultivated for centuries by the Incas of Peru, Maya Indians and Aztecs of Mexico. The Aztecs were so enthralled with the bean that they attributed its creation to their god Quetzalcoatl who, as the legend goes, descended from heaven on a beam of a morning star carrying a cacao tree stolen from paradise. In fact, the Aztecs valued the cacao bean so much that they used it as currency. The Aztecs also used the cacao beans to prepare a thick, cold, unsweetened drink called "chocolatl" - a liquid so prestigious that it was served in golden goblets that were thrown away after one use.

Emperor Moctezuma liked it flavored with vanilla but the majority of people added spices of many kinds. Chocolate, considered a sacred drink, could be partaken only by persons of the most exalted rank. Such is the magnificent origin of the common cocoa and chocolate.

When Cortez conquered Mexico in 1519, chocolate soon became a favorite drink with the Spaniards. While he was fascinated with Aztec's bitter, spicy beverage, he was more impressed by the fact that cacao beans were used as Aztec currency. In 1519 he established in the name of Spain a cacao plantation where "money" could be cultivated. And when he returned to Spain in 1528, he took some of the wondrous beans back to Charles V, his King. The Spaniards mixed the beans with sugar, vanilla, nutmeg, clove, allspice, and cinnamon, which was more agreeable to European tastes and became the drink of the nobility - a secret Spain managed to keep from the rest of the world for almost 100 years.
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