But in case you need an extra reason (or 10) to celebrate chocolate, just turn to science. Studies of chocolate lovers – and even some self-proclaimed "chocoholics" – suggest that it could lower blood pressure and reduce the risk of heart disease, help control blood sugar and reduce stress, and so on.
The research has even confirmed some of the most bizarre health benefits attributed to cocoa. The Mayas used powdered chocolate to relieve the damage and in the past decade researchers have identified chemicals that can block diarrhea in chocolate. But when it comes to prescribing cocoa to fight against the wounds of syphilis, Victorian doctors probably missed it.
"(Chocolate) is a good antioxidant, it has a beneficial effect on inflammation, and we think most of the benefits are due to that," said Dr. Owais Khawaja, a cardiology researcher at St Medical Center. Vincent Mercy of Toledo, in Ohio. . These benefits could include reducing the risk of cancer and dementia, Khawaja said.
Even a chocolate bar containing 70% cocoa, generally considered dark chocolate, can contain different levels of flavonoid compounds, depending on the method of treatment used. For example, chocolate that has gone through a chemical stage known as dutching, also known as dutch chocolate, has essentially lost all trace of these compounds.
Then there is milk and sugar. "What we get commercially, it's not just pure chocolate … I do not think milk and sugar in milk chocolate would be as beneficial to you," Khawaja said.
This could be bad news for those hoping to harness the power of chocolate when they grab a Hershey bar or Snickers. Contrary to what advertisers said when introducing milk chocolate to Europe and the United States in the late 1800s, it may not be a nutrient in our diet.
But we need more research on the effects of consuming all kinds of chocolate, including milk. "There is not enough data on the shape of chocolate that is good" and the amount of chocolate that is good, said Khawaja. Studies tend to ask participants if they consume chocolate or dark chocolate, but not what type. To make matters worse, people often forget or give a false picture of the amount that they actually eat.
For the moment, it's probably safe to say that dark chocolate is good – or at least not bad. "But until we have more data, do not eat too much.If you eat a portion once or twice a day, it's fine.But do not start eating it six times a day. "Khawaja said.
Here's a glimpse of what doctors, leaders, and business people have thought about chocolate through the ages.
500 BC J.-C .: "The food of God & # 39; for everyone
The word "cocoa" comes from "kakawa", which meant "food of God" for the Olmecs who lived in what is now Central America between 1500 and 500 BC. The ancient Mayas of what is now Mexico have apparently accepted. Researchers have detected chocolate-based chemicals in Mayan ceramic vessels dating back to 600 BC. Chocolate, which was often consumed in the form of thick, frothy beverage, has probably gained popularity only in the following centuries. By the time Europeans discovered the Mayans, chocolate was not just for the gods and the rich. Everyone drank it.
1500: Chocolate is the original energy drink
The chocolate drink received considerable support when Emperor Aztec Montezuma II, who ruled from 1502 to 1520, called it "the divine drink, which strengthens resistance and fights fatigue." A cup of this precious drink ( cocoa) allows the man to walk all day without food. "
1577: Do you have the tracks? Take some chocolate
In the sixteenth century, chocolate had gained a reputation, both on the American continent and in Europe, for the treatment of many medical ailments, including fever, cough and stomach and liver problems. In 1577, Spanish explorer Francisco Hernandez wrote about how Mexicans roasted cocoa beans and ground them into a medicinal powder that "contained dysentery". Five centuries later, in 2005, researchers discovered that flavonoid antioxidants in chocolate could block the secretion of fluid in intestinal cells, at least in the laboratory, suggesting that cocoa could provide natural relief from diarrhea.
1719: Chocolate is what is there at the table
In his book "The Natural History of Chocolate", the Frenchman D. De Quelus recounted his fifteen-year stay in America and concluded that an ounce of chocolate had "as much nutritional value as a whole." beef pound ". As proof, he may be describing a woman who could not chew because of a jaw injury and who had to survive on a diet of melted chocolate in hot water containing sugar and cinnamon. She was "brighter and sturdier than before her accident," writes De Quelus.
1825: A spoonful of chocolate helps the drug to diminish
A French pharmacist, Jean-Antoine Brutus Menier, opened a chocolate factory coated with less appetizing pills. When his sons took power, they abandoned the drug side and turned it into Menier Chocolate (which was eventually sold to Nestle).
1864: Spread chocolate on your syphilis wounds
Chocolate was the most pleasant ingredient of a balm administered to syphilis patients and containing corrosive substances. Chocolate was also used as an antidote for infections with parasitic worms. For this prescription, it was mixed with sugar, cinnamon, tree oil and an antifungal called calomel.
1875: milk chocolate is born
After nearly a decade of experimentation, the Swiss inventor Daniel Peter unveiled the "original" milk chocolate, a combination of cocoa, cocoa butter, condensed milk and sugar. Advertisements proclaimed that the product was a more nutritious staple than coffee and a luxury "as distinct from ordinary eating chocolate as the Alps are small hills". Switzerland was riding high on milk chocolate until Cadbury came on the scene in England in 1904, promising to make "strong men stronger" and generally be the best milk chocolate. in terms of nutrition, sustenance and refreshments.
1900: Hershey brings the benefits of milk chocolate to American soil
Milton S. Hershey became known in the 1880s by developing a toffee candy so tasty that he killed all competition. At the turn of the century, the famous confectioner was chocolate. After a reconnaissance mission to Switzerland, cradle of milk chocolate, Hershey introduced the 5 cent bar – where else? – Pennsylvania. Similar to its European predecessors, the bar has been marketed as a daily dietary requirement "more durable than meat".
1989: an antidepressant could cure the chocoholics
In the 1800s and 1900s, the texts multiplied to describe the medicinal purposes of chocolate under the sun. But what if you needed medicine to stop you from eating chocolate? For the first time in the medical literature, doctors have announced that they have successfully treated propylene-additive therapy with bupropion, the new antidepressant called bupropion, called "Wellbutrin", in two patients who may be addicted to chocolate. One of the patients, a middle-aged woman also suffering from depression, went from 2 pounds of chocolate candy a day to no longer be interested in chocolate after taking bupropion. (However, she still had a normal appetite for other foods.)
1996: Is chocoholism really addictive?
The research concluded what most of us already know: chocolate is the most sought after of all foods. The power of chocolate is probably stimulated only by the sweetness and crema of most chocolate treats. But could he really create an addiction in the same way as drugs and alcohol? Psychologists argue against this possibility. Although chocolate contains caffeine and marijuana-like substances, it probably does not contain enough substances to have long-term effects on brain chemistry.
1998: chocolate is the ultimate comfort food
Forget the pizzas and french fries; Chocolate can be the pinnacle of all comfort foods. A study of 330 adults in the UK suggests that people tend to crack chocolate when they feel depressed, upset or stressed. Experts speculate that it's because eating chocolate, like all nice foods, gives us an endorphin rush. These are the same well-being chemicals that our body releases when we do exercise.
2002: Is chocolate a cancer food?
Is it too good to be true that chocolate fights cancer? Maybe not, according to some emerging data. An antioxidant found in chocolate, catechin, was associated with a decrease in the rate of lung cancer in a study of elderly Dutch men. A year later, a US study of postmenopausal women found that those who consumed the highest catechin content had a 45% lower risk of rectal cancer than those who consumed the lowest level of catechin. However, the authors of the studies pointed out that other foods and beverages, including tea, apples and pears, are richer sources of catechins than chocolate and that lower cancer rates may be more relevant to consumers.
2004: giving chocolate to a crying baby
Pregnant women might want to give in to their chocolate cravings. Women who report eating chocolate every day during pregnancy then describe their baby as being more active and having a better temper at 6 months of age. Researchers who conducted the study suggest that chocolate could help alleviate prenatal stress in future moms.
2005: dark chocolate can fight diabetes
It's hard to imagine that chocolate can control your blood sugar, but dark chocolate could have that effect. In a small study of healthy adults, those who ate half an ounce of dark chocolate a day for 15 days had better insulin sensitivity and lower blood pressure than adults who ate a similar amount of white chocolate.
2006: chocolate is the Indian's secret for a healthy heart
US researchers have traveled to an isolated island in Panama to solve a medical mystery: Why are the Kuna Indians living there free from high blood pressure and other diseases, although they eat as much salt as they do? Americans? The researchers found that the likely explanation is that this population consumes a lot of cocoa-containing beverages, about 10 times more than the less traditional Kuna living in Panama. Previous research has suggested that the antioxidants in the cocoa plant called flavanols could cause dilation of the blood vessels, thereby lowering blood pressure.
2006: This is your chocolate brain
If chocolate is a drug, at least it does not seem to have any frightening effects on your brain as in the public interest messages of the 1980s. A 2006 study conducted brain imaging of young people women and an increase in cerebral blood flow after women drank a flavanol antioxidant-rich cocoa drink for five days. Studies conducted in subsequent years showed that young women responded more quickly after consuming dark chocolate and that older adults performed better on a memory test after drinking high-grade cocoa drinks. in flavanol for three months.
2006: Chocolate may not be an aphrodisiac
It is said that the Aztec emperor Montezuma II drank a "divine drink" of chocolate "before visiting his women". However, science has not supported the role of chocolate in the bedroom. A study of women in northern Italy found that those who reported eating the most chocolate had higher levels of sexual desire and satisfaction. But these women were also younger than non-consumers of chocolate and the researchers concluded that the difference in age was probably due to age rather than to chocolate consumption.
2008: chocolate s' attack with inflammation
A study conducted in Italy on adults found that those who ate small to moderate amounts of dark chocolate – up to 0.3 ounce a day, the equivalent of about half a half of Hershey Kisses – had lower levels of C-reactive protein, a marker of inflammation that has been linked to heart disease. But there was a trap. Those who ate more than a third of an ounce of chocolate a day did not seem to benefit from it to reduce inflammation.
2010: Chocolate buzz could help people with chronic fatigue syndrome
Montezuma II could have been on something when he considered chocolate as a cure for fatigue. A small study showed that people with severe chronic fatigue syndrome had relief from their symptoms – and some could even return to work – after consuming chocolate rich in polyphenolic antioxidants for eight weeks.
2011: to be addictive or not to be, that is the question of chocolate
Have you ever regretted that chocolate is the ideal food, except when you no longer want to eat it? Do not worry, science understands. One study involved both sugar and cocoa in chocolate to make adults less able to restrain themselves from coming back for a few seconds. Chocolate tasting has even created feelings of euphoria and well-being among these adults, along with addictive drugs.
However, even though chocolate may cause a loss of control, it probably does not create addiction, said Jennifer Nasser, associate professor of nutrition science at Drexel University and senior author of the study. On the one hand, it takes too long for chocolate chemicals to enter our bloodstream, she said. However, other researchers say that sugar can be addictive and can alter brain chemistry in a way that resembles addiction.
2012: chocolate could save your skin
Chocolate can be combined with drinks such as coffee, tea and cola to reduce your risk of skin cancer. In the United States, a study of more than 120,000 nurses found that women and men who consumed the highest amount of these drinks and ate the most chocolate were 18% and 13% less likely to develop skin cancer, probably because of the caffeine they contain. But the caffeine in a serving of chocolate is minimal compared to that in a cup of coffee: 7 milligrams versus 137 milligrams.
2015: Is chocolate good for your heart? Let us count the means.
The anti-hypertensive power of chocolate could be only a beginning. The researchers discovered other benefits for the heart in an extensive analysis of more than 150,000 men and women in the United States, Europe, and Australia who reported eating up to 3.5 ounces of chocolate a day . Chocolate consumption was associated with a 21% lower stroke risk, a 29% risk of developing heart disease and a 45% risk of dying from heart disease.
Still better news for some, the study showed that drinking milk chocolate, often considered less healthy than dark chocolate, was also associated with a lower risk of heart disease. The authors assume that ingredients such as calcium in milk chocolate could contribute to this beneficial effect.
Although the authors say that the observed benefits may be due to other foods in the participants' diets, they at least consider that the results suggest that there "seems to be no evidence to say that chocolate should be avoided in those who are concerned about cardiovascular risk. "
2017: a heartbeat study reminds us why chocolate can be complicated
Research on the possibility that chocolate has other ties to the heart was further investigated in May.
A study published in the journal Heart, which is part of the BMJ group, suggested that moderate consumption of chocolate might be linked to a lower risk of atrial fibrillation, the most common type of irregular heartbeat.
Yet the controversial study presented serious limitations and revealed only an association and not an informal relationship.
The study involved 55,502 adults in Denmark and included self-reported data on the amount of chocolate that each person ate, on average. A serving of chocolate has been defined in the study as 1 ounce.
Adults were separated into five groups: those who consumed less than one serving per month; one to three servings a month; one serving per week two to six servings a week; and a serving or more per day.
The researchers found that the rate of atrial fibrillation was lower than that of those who reported consuming less than one serving per month on average.
In women, researchers found that the strongest inverse association between chocolate and atrial fibrillation was among those who said they had a serving of chocolate a week. Among men, the strongest was among those who said they had two to six servings a week.
However, the study did reveal a correlation between a chocolate diet and heart palpitations, not a cause-and-effect relationship. For this reason, even the researchers noted in the study that there was no way to exclude that chocolate could be the cause of the study results.
For example, among the subjects in the study, the percentage of diabetes cases reporting that they consumed more chocolate on average was lower. People with certain chronic diseases, including diabetes, have an increased risk of atrial fibrillation, according to the Mayo Clinic.
"Chocolate consumers were healthier because they suffered less from hypertension, diabetes, and lower blood pressure.They also had a higher level of education," wrote the author. Drs. Jonathan Piccini and Sean Pokorney in an editorial that accompanied the new study.
"In addition, although the study characterized the level of education, other socio-economic factors, such as income, were not taken into account", have- they write. "Whatever the limits of the Danish chocolate study, the results are interesting and deserve further study."