Chocolate's Health Benefits

Is chocolate really that bad for you or can it play a part in a healthy lifestyle? Find out here.

In 1519 Spanish Conquistadore Hernando Cortes led an expedition into the depths of Mexico to capture gold and silver treasures from the Aztec people. The Emperor Montezuma, along with his subjects, welcomed these strange looking visitors as "╦ťwhite Gods, risen from the sea.' The Spaniards were feasted and served a cold, bitter drink that was very popular among the Aztecs. The drink was called cacahuati.

From the Aztecs the Spaniards learned that the drink has mystical connections, it being the product of the juice of the seeds of the cacao tree. Montezuma himself held that the drink not only gave him strength and energy, but also gave an impetus to his sexual prowess. To the Spaniards, however, the drink was too bitter. By adding sugar, however, it was made more pleasant to the European palatte. In fact, Cortes decided to introduce this new find into the Spanish Court. He called it chocolatl and in Spain it became an immediate success. Among the elite it became a delicacy, served piping hot. Soon Spanish ships were bringing regular supplies of cacao beans to satisfy this demand. Before long the drink spread across Europe. In England, they changed the name to the easier to pronounce chocolate. Methods of manufacture were refined over the years and before long the chocolate drink was just the first in a long line of cacao seed based products - chocolate bars, milk chocolate, chocolate with nuts in it, chocolate with cherries, chocolate with caramel.

Today chocolate is all around us. We all love it. Many of us, however, feel a little guilty about eating it. So, what's the truth. Is chocolate really bad for you?

Does chocolate cause acne? In a recent study out of the University of Pennsylvania, 65 acne sufferers began to consume large amounts of chocolate. 46 showed no change in their condition, 10 got better and 9 got worse. This would sem to indicate that chocolate does not affect acne.

Does chocolate cause migraines? Unfortunately, the research does show that large amounts of chocolate can cause migraines as well as upset stomachs and hives. These types of reactions are, however, relatively minor.

Chocolate does not cause high levels of cholesterol in the blood. Since it is a product of plants, chocolate contains no cholesterol. A chocolate bar does however contain a lot of calories - a bar of one and a half ounces has a whopping 220 calories. Chocolate is, however, a powerful fighter of fatigue and it does give the consumer strength and energy.

Chocolate, then, has both positive and negative aspects to it. You'll have to weigh the balances for yourself as you decide whether or not to indulge.

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