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Defending the Divine Drink
When you hear the word chocolate, what’s your immediate response? If it resembles “yuck, too many calories”, then shame on you!
Chocolate, otherwise known as ‘theobroma Cacoa’, the literal Aztec translation for ‘food of the gods’, quite simply is the most versatile, beneficial, addictive, smouldering and desired substance of our earth. Chocolate was born in ancient Mayan and Aztec civilisations in central America. As far as can be told, the Aztecs shared their newly treasured creation in the form of a spicy hot drink made from roasted cocoa beans, with the Spaniards, who enhanced it’s startling taste with the addition of cinnamon and vanilla. It was they, who passed liquid chocolate along to Europe, mid 16th century, where it became an exclusive beverage that only the lavish nobility could obtain. The technique of producing solid chocolate with cocoa butter and powder, was only developed during early Victorian times.
In case you’ve ever thought of buying one for yourself, cocoa trees ideally reside deep within your average tropical rainforest, protected from sun and wind. They rarely reach heights exceeding 7.5m and bear intricate pink and white flowers year round. They probably won’t have them in Bunnings.
Despite chocolate’s common association with obesity, acne and fatty greasy junky foods, each one of these preconceptions have been scientifically proven false, and chocolate innocent.
Because it is made from plant material, chocolate maintains many of the health benefits of dark vegetables. Most faithful to this, chocolate contains ‘flavnoids’ which are a form of antioxidant, that protects the body from ‘free radicals’, those unstable, radioactive cells that trigger cancer and aging. Yes, you heard correctly, chocolate prevents cancer! Dark chocolate contains 8x the amount of antioxidants of strawberries, and 4x the antioxidants found in tea, with 53.3mg of catochins (powerful antioxidants) in chocolate, to black tea’s mere 13.9mg. These charming ‘flavnoids’ also happen to relax blood pressure through the production of nitric oxide, and balance some hormones in the body, for those of you undergoing any tricky transitions, e.g. puberty, pregnancy or menopause. Another bout of studies have concluded that a ‘small’ bar of chocolate daily can help to reduce LDL (evil) cholesterol by up to 10%. Although, this does seem a bit non-committal to me, as the description ‘small’ really could mean anything. How do we know the scientist who came up with this statistic wasn’t a giant whose definitions regarding quantity greatly differ from those of the average Australian? Therefore, I think they really meant to say, a chocolate bar as big as your head.
In addition, a study conducted in 2001 at the Pennsylvanian State University has made up its mind that the consumption of dark chocolate is capable of increasing HDL (nice) cholesterol. This finding, however, has endured scrutiny because only 23 people participated in the experiment, a fact that is completely beside the point.
Back to one of my initial statements, one of chocolate’s most common premeditated judgement states that it causes /increases acne and obesity. The former is complete rubbish, in my experience, nutella is the only chocolate tasting anything that contributes to a build-up of nasty skin oil. It is actually, used by some, witty individuals, to fight acne. “For a face packed full with antioxidants, melt a block of dark chocolate and apply it to your face. Leave for 15 minutes until hard, to aid skin complexion.” It is also a matter of concrete fact that although the ‘average’ (it must have been a giant again) bar of our hero contains around 120 calories (whatever that means), only 1/3 of the fats in chocolate can be unhealthy. 1/3 of proper chocolate’s fats is oleic acid, a friendly non-saturated fat in olive oil; the second 1/3 is stearic acid, a good saturated fat that doesn’t bother cholesterol; and the last third, palmatic acid is a saturated fat that raises cholesterol, but you can’t always win. Obviously it is McDonalds, not chocolate, causing our current obesity pandemic.
On top of aiding the body’s blood brawl between good and evil cholesterol, helping your skin, curing cancer and not being fat-tastic , chocolate doesn’t rot your teeth. Researchers from the Eastman Dental centre in Rochester, New York have decided that milk chocolate is thy snack food least likely to contribute to teeth decay. Although it does contain high sugar levels, chocolate somehow has the talent to produce minerals such as phosphate and other bacteria which battles erosion. Perhaps they figured this out much sooner than us, for in ancient times chocolate was actually known as a form of toothpaste.
Nice nutrients (all nutrients are nice) such as the bananas in pyjamas vitamins, B1, B2 and also D and E, are all part of the party of chocolate. Endorphins are also a part of the mix, such as the antidepressant, serotonin and theobromine, borrowed from caffeine and alike stimulants. Apparently, chocolate is able to simulate the ‘high’ a runner may experience following running for several miles. So, in a way, chocolate really is a drug (a nice one) with all the highs, none of the lows besides a stomach ache, and no nasty withdrawal symptoms or side effects like schizophrenia.
In addition to numerous, above mentioned health benefits, chocolate is useful for more than consumption. It has become widely utilised in modern art and fashion societies, as an easily manipulative sculptural and textile material, due to its ability be melted down and set into any shape. “Don’t just eat it, wear it!”.
In 1000AD, the Aztec Empire once used cocoa beans as a form of currency. To pay off their debts, civilians of the working class were forced to harvest the beans, which royalty would then seize and manufacture to enjoy as an afternoon snack. Apparently, four cocoa beans could score you a pumpkin, 10, a rabbit and 100, a slave.
A blog, the “top ten mind blowing uses for chocolate” suggests chocolate underwear, (might feel a bit awkward), chocolate golf clubs, or pens and paper; “it’s no big deal if you make a mistake, just lick it off!”
Health practitioners of the 1800s seem to have had it sorted, chocolate was then used as a common cure for stomach aches, forget Panadol, just scoff a snickers. (that seems logical, doesn’t it?) In central America, chocolate was once believed to build up resistance to disease, and fight fatigue. Aztec Emperor,
Montezema once said, “The divine drink permits a man to walk for a day without food.” (I am willing to test if it works with women.)
So there you go, I have hereby disproven any pre misconception you may have maintained towards the luxury of chocolate, that it is not dangerous, will not trigger wobbles on your thigh or blotches across your nose. I believe, and you should too, that society is ready to welcome cocoa back into it’s medicine cabinets with a pat on the back and an apology for losing touch. We have been strayed from this path by the unspoken rules forced upon us by those faceless ‘them’, who at some unknown point made you believe, undoubtedly, that fat is bad, blue and green should never be seen, your socks must match and chocolate is unhealthy. We need to stick up for our rights, that entitle us to never-ending supplies of chocolate, Timtam packets that never run out, and the ability to be ourselves. After-all, you should feel honoured that in this century chocolate has been made accessible to middleclass commoners such as ourselves, (assuming, of course, that the reader is not royalty.)
Chocolate is a handy material to have around the house incase one day you suddenly decide to become a sculpter, and have no clay, it will cure you of cancer, make you feel happy and high, give you a nice complexion if you slap it on your face, chock you full of vitamins and generally make the world a better place. It will not make you fat, give you splotches, or make your teeth fall out, unless you go silly. And who cares if you do? As far as we can ever guess, you will only live once, and we are headed for another ice age, so whats the harm in being prepared with plently of pre-stored body mass index and insulation? I promise i have not made any fact up within this article, except maybe that thing about the giants. Giants can’t really be scientists, they don’t make white coats big enough.
Please ignore that stupid voice in your head telling you to pick up an apple instead, all a conscience has ever really achieved, is sabotage of a magical adventure. Just go for it.