Willy Wonka + Mayans
Back in 250-900 A.D. the Mayans noticed a wild tree (cacao tree) occupying rain forests in South America and figured out it could be cultivated. They would ferment, roast and grind the beans, similar to what we do today.
But the Mayans didn’t have a “Willy Wonka Factory” with helpful machinery to produce a variety of confections. Instead, they enjoyed chocolate as a beverage with ground beans, water, chile, vanilla, black pepper and cornmeal sweetened with honey.
To the Mayans cacao was valuable stuff. It wasn’t consumed on a regular basis but often used as part of tradition and rituals. Cacao beans were also used as a form of currency.
The industrial revolution changed the chocolate “experience”. The cocoa press was invented in 1828 to separate chocolate into cocoa butter and solids (cocoa powder). Between 1875 and 1894 the names “Nestle” and “Hershey” became more popular with the development of milk chocolate and mass production of chocolate bars spanning the globe.
Traditional chocolate is one of the most concentrated sources of natural antioxidant plant compounds, called flavonoids. Cocoa products account for a major proportion of flavonoid intake in Western countries. Cocoa is bitter and astringent - this is why many companies add sugar and milk fat (think Kit-Kat) but unfortunately these “additions”, along with other processing methods, can inhibit the absorption of the flavonoids.
Foods rich in cocoa may reduce blood pressure, which could be due to flavonoids, since they can modify the production of inflammatory modulators and dilate blood vessels in the body, similar to omega-3 fats. While some research has shown that cocoa is associated with a lower incidence of experiencing a cardiovascular event, other studies indicate no benefit.
Inflammation contributes to plaque buildup on blood vessel walls. Combine inflammation with an unhealthy blood lipid profile and we have a recipe for heart attack and stroke.
Flavonoid rich chocolate can decrease bad cholesterol, increase good cholesterol and reduce platelet stickiness.
Addictive properties of chocolate
Chocolate is one of the most popular sources of caffeine which can create a mild dependence.
Chocolate stimulates some, but not all, of the same regions of the brain that are activated by drugs such as cocaine.
Chocolate creates feelings of pleasure because it tastes good and triggers a positive emotional connection. Through an endorphin rush chocolate also brings feelings of love.
Researchers have also identified a cannabinoid in chocolate which triggers the same mood-altering brain receptors as marijuana. Oh but don’t get too excited - getting a marijuana-strength “high” would take about 25 pounds of chocolate !!
We thought you might like to know these health facts about chocolate so we added this page for reference purposes :-)
NOTE: Kombucha is a functional food product not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any illness or disease.