4 Things you may not know about Chocolate…
Ah chocolate… Everyone loves chocolate. Its sweet, delicious creaminess has delighted human beings for generation upon generation, but as well as being scrumptious, there are lots of surprising things about your favourite treat that you may not be aware of.
Here are four amazing facts about chocolate that may interest seasoned chocoholics…
- Chocolate makes you happy
As well as making you smile when your other half buys you some scrummy truffles for your birthday, did you know that chocolate is scientifically proven to actually improve your mood?
Here comes the science… Eating chocolate stimulates the excretion of endorphins, neurotransmitters that actually boost feelings of wellbeing and euphoria. Chocolate also contains tryptophan which causes the release of serotonin, a natural antidepressant. A rather more unique neurotransmitter released by eating chocolate is phenylethylamine. Dubbed “the love drug”, phenylethylamine causes your pulse rate to quicken, similar to the “butterflies” feeling of being in love. Coupled with lipid anandamide, another compound found in chocolate that produces dopamine and causes feelings of euphoria, it’s no wonder that eating delicious choccie makes us happy. Bring on the truffles!
- Antioxidants in chocolate may be good for you…
Although chocolate is high in fat and sugar, making it a great product to eat for a little treat rather than a part of your daily diet, top quality dark chocolate actually contains antioxidants that could be good for your heart…
Dark chocolate is absolutely loaded with compounds that function as antioxidants, including flavanols, polyphenols and catechins. A recent study has even demonstrated that dark chocolate and cocoa contain more antioxidants than fruits such as blueberries! Antioxidants can also help protect you against free radicals that cause ageing. What’s not to love?
- Chocolate was invented by the Mayans…or Aztecs!
Although some scholars disagree about which civilisation discovered chocolate, the Mayans and Aztecs from Central America are widely regarded to be the first people to harvest the seeds from cocoa pods to make derived products. It is believed that these people of Mesoamerica made bitter tasting drinks from cocoa – possibly as early as 350 BC. Chocolate was so important that, for several centuries in pre-modern Latin America, cacao beans were even used as currency.
After Europeans discovered the Americas, sweetened chocolate was born. Sugar or honey was added to the mixture to make it more palatable to the foreigners taste buds, and it quickly became very popular throughout Spain – and then the rest of the world!
- We eat A LOT of chocolate in the UK!
Recent figures by research giant Mintel has found that eight million Brits – that’s one in six of us – eat chocolate every single day, and a similar percentage eat chocolate four to six times a week.
Only a very small minority (just five per cent) say that they never eat chocolate, proving that chocolate is very firmly one of our nation’s favourite treats. Further data by Mintel says that average Brit consumed 8.4 kg of chocolate in 2017…that’s a lot of truffles!
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