One hundred pounds of chocolate is eaten in the U.S. every second! It is one of the world’s most loved foods. Although chocolate is high in fat, dark chocolate; that is more than 70% cacao has distinct health benefits; it is an abundant source of flavonoids.

Cacao, the source of chocolate was believed to be first used by the Olmecs of southern Mexico to create a drink reserved for religious ceremonies.  The Mayans of Central America treated it as a celebratory drink.  The Aztecs believed that cacao was the drink of the gods, and they used cacao beans as currency.  Montezuma II viewed chocolate as an aphrodisiac and drank it daily.  There are conflicting reports of who brought chocolate to Spain, Christopher Columbus, Hernan Cortes or Franciscan Friars.  Nonetheless, by 1585 Spain began importing chocolate, and as other European countries were introduced to chocolate, it quickly spread throughout the continent.

Here are more nutritional facts about dark chocolate:

A daily dose can reduce heart disease.  Cacao works as an antioxidant that lowers LDL cholesterol (bad) and reduces blood pressure. Research shows that people who eat dark chocolate five times per week have a 56% lower risk of heart disease compared to those who don’t.

Chocolate toothpaste can protect against tooth decay due to its anti-bacterial effect in the mouth. Studies show that CBH, a compound (helps harden tooth enamel) in dark chocolate is more effective at fighting tooth decay than fluoride, and someday will be used in toothpaste and mouthwashes.

Dark chocolate has more antioxidants than milk. It is a rich source of magnesium, 9% and copper 30% in a 100 calorie serving of the recommended daily allowances.

A bar of dark chocolate that contains 70% cacao is the lowest percentage acceptable to be considered healthy.  Chocolate with 85% or more cacaos is best; however, it takes getting used to due to its bitter taste.

Watch out for the sugar content even in dark chocolate.  Ten to fifteen grams of sugar or less per serving is best.


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