It’s Easter! Have a good one everybody!
Whilst I must admit to having polished off my egg yesterday (don’t worry I am sure the Easter bunny will deliver more today!) it was a dark chocolate one so I did reap the benefit of that 70% cacao. There was still a bit too much (raw cane) sugar in for my health liking (but not my taste buds!), and there is also soy lecithin contained as an emulsifier. But as a sweet, very occasional treat it’s not going to kill me! Before I do my round-up of healthier choc options, here are some fun and interesting chocolate facts I found out whilst researching for this piece.
Top 5 Health Facts About Chocolate
- Chocolate does help to relax you! The smell of chocolate increases theta brain waves. These measure between 4.5 and 7 Hz and are brain waves present in the stages just before sleeping, just after waking, when the brain is in REM sleep (dreaming), hypnosis, and during light meditation. Theta brainwaves cross between the conscious and subconscious world, and when present the mind is said to be capable of profound learning, healing and growth. (1)
- Chocolate has several positive effects on the cardiovascular system and eating it every day reduces the risk of heart disease by one third. Researchers are still looking into the exact mechanisms that contribute to reducing the risk of heart disease however it is thought that the bioavailability of nitrous oxide as well as antioxidants known as flavonoids and polyphenols which also help to reduce blood pressure. Eating dark chocolate also widens arteries, promoting healthy blood flow that can prevent plaque building up and blocking arteries. (2)
- Chocolate has an antibacterial effect on the mouth and protects against tooth decay. (3)
- The flavonoids found in cacao may help reduce the risk of diabetes and improving insulin sensitivity through its antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and anti-clotting effects.
- People who are depressed eat about 55% more chocolate than there non-depressed peers. (5)
Top 5 Fun Facts About Chocolate
- The Aztecs and Mayans used chocolate as currency. Cacao beans were considered so valuable they were used as currency. To give you an idea of value, ten beans could buy a rabbit or even a prostitute.
- Still with the Aztecs and Mayans, these ancient cultures drank cacao for its health properties however due to cacao’s value only the rich could afford it. Montezuma is said to have drunk 50 cups a day! The cacao that these ancient people drank was not hot or warm as we drink today, but a cold drink!
- M&Ms were created in 1941 as a means for soldiers to enjoy chocolate without it melting. (3)
- White chocolate is not technically chocolate as it contains no cocoa solids or cocoa liquor. (3)
- The average Brit spends just over £1 a week on chocolate. (4)
Facts To Make You Think About Chocolate
Fair Trade Certified Chocolate means you can be sure that no forced or abusive child labour is used, however sadly sales of fair trade chocolate represent less than 1% of a $66 billion market. In 2010 for instance 1.8 million children aged 5-17 were forced labourers on cocoa farms across Ghana and the Ivory Coast. Of these, 40% were not enrolled in school and only 5% were paid to work. UNICEF believes 35,000 of these children were victims of trafficking.
As always, the power is in how you, the consumer, spend your pounds. So please take a moment to think about your chocolate indulgence and how your purchase can have an impact on the lives of others!
(5) Mann, Denise. “Study: Chocolate and Depression Go Hand in Hand.” CNN. April 26, 2010. Accessed: August 24, 2011.