It seems brushing one’s teeth is not only for health and hygiene reasons, it is so much more.
Increase Brain Power
There are also some research about the effect of chocolates to brain power. Apparently the flavanols in cocoa can increase cognitive abilities, allowing for multitasking, i.e. ability to perform two or more tasks at a time.
Chemically speaking, chocolate really is the world’s perfect food.
– Michael Levine, nutrition researcher
I read in an article on the BBC site about a claim that countries with high consumptions of chocolate produce the most Nobel Prize winners.
Did you know that the cacao tree provide us with cocoa and chocolate.
Apparently the Olmec people, the first major civilisation of Mexico, started growing cocoa trees as far back at 3,500 years ago.
But it was the Mayan who established the first cacao plantations in the northern region of South America around 600AD. They then developed the drink made from ground cocoa beans. It would be flavoured with vanilla, chilli or other spices. Sometimes honey was added but most often, the Mayan did not sweeten their chocolate drinks.
The cacao tree was named Theobroma cacao (meaning food of the gods) by a Swedish naturalist, Linnaeus in 18th century. Chocolate was real a ambrosia. Valued so much that it was used as currency. Only the privileged few got to drink chocolate; the warriors and the elite minority.
The Aztec Montezuma was said to drink 50 times a day of chocolate using a gold goblet. He drunk it cold flavoured with vanilla and spices. He was known to have served his nemesis, Hernan Cortez with the chocolatl. Ungrateful Cortez killed Montezuma!!!
When Hernan Cortez went back to Spain he brought with him copious amount of chocolate beans and instruction how to use it. To suit European palate, sugar was added. For years only the rich can afford the chocolate.
Although Hernan Cortez was more popularly connected with chocolate due to his tussle with Montezuma in 1519, it was actually Christopher Columbus who was the first European to discover the cocoa beans when he met a Mayan canoe in a trading post in Guanaja, now Nicaragua, in 1502. Unfortunately Columbus did not elaborate the uses and properties of the cocoa beans.
Secret to Winning a Nobel Prize? Eat More Chocolate
As the Nobel Prizes are being awarded this week, one U.S. scientist asks: could eating chocolate have anything to do with becoming a laureate?
Why would the sweet treat be linked to winning the most prestigious intellectual award, you ask? In a “note” published in the New England Journal of Medicine, Dr. Franz H. Messerli, a cardiologist at St. Luke’s–Roosevelt Hospital in New York City, writes that cocoa contains flavanols, plant-based compounds that previous studieshave linked to the slowing or reversing of age-related cognitive decline. (You can also get flavonols in green tea, red wine and some fruits.)
Given that, Messerli wondered “whether there would be a correlation between a country’s level of chocolate consumption and its population’s cognitive function.” But since “no data on overall national cognitive function are publicly available,” Messerli decided to use the number of Nobel laureates per capita as a stand-in.
Messerli went to Wikipedia and downloaded a list of countries ranked by Nobel laureates per capita (only prizes awarded through 2011 were included), and then compared that data with each country’s annual chocolate consumption per capita, obtained from several chocolate trade associations. What he found was a “surprisingly powerful correlation” between the two.
The country with the most Nobel laureates per 10 million people and the greatest chocolate consumption per capita: Switzerland. Sweden came in a close second, and Denmark landed in third place. (See a graph of all 23 countries included here.)
The U.S. fell somewhere in the middle of the pack, along with the Netherlands, Ireland, France, Belgium and Germany, according to Messerli’s analysis. At the bottom of the list were China, Japan and Brazil.
And Sweden was an outlier. Messerli notes that given the country’s per capita chocolate consumption of 6.4 kg (14 lbs.) per year, one would expect it to produce a total of about 14 Nobel laureates — and yet Sweden has 32. Messerli writes:
Considering that in this instance the observed number exceeds the expected number by a factor of more than 2, one cannot quite escape the notion that either the Nobel Committee in Stockholm has some inherent patriotic bias when assessing the candidates for these awards or, perhaps, that the Swedes are particularly sensitive to chocolate, and even minuscule amounts greatly enhance their cognition.
The good doctor even calculated the dose of chocolate necessary to increase the number of Nobel laureates in a given country by one: 0.4 kg (0.9 lbs.) of chocolate per capita per year. For the U.S., that would amount to 125 million kg (275.6 million lbs.) of chocolate a year.
“Obviously, these findings are hypothesis-generating only and will have to be tested in a prospective, randomized trial,” Messerli writes with a wink, noting that the data doesn’t prove that eating chocolate actually causes superior intellectual function. It could be, for instance, that smarter people simply eat more chocolate.
Either way, at least one Nobel laureate, Eric Cornell, an American physicist who shared the Nobel Prize in 2001, is on board with the new findings. He joked to Reuters Health that eating dark chocolate was indeed the secret to his success: “Personally I feel that milk chocolate makes you stupid. Now dark chocolate is the way to go. It’s one thing if you want like a medicine or chemistry Nobel Prize, O.K., but if you want a physics Nobel Prize it pretty much has got to be dark chocolate.”
Chocolate is a perfect food, as wholesome as it is delicious, a beneficent restorer of exhausted power, it is the best friend of those engaged in literary pursuits.
– Baron Justus Von Lieberg (19th century German Chemist)
If I could only have two foods, I’d take some fantastic chocolate. And some terrible chocolate.
– Sonia Rykiel
French Fashion Designer
Fruits only angers my need for chocolate
– Jason Love
1001: Chocolate – The Lowdown
15 August 2012 Dark chocolate ‘may lower blood pressure’
By James Gallagher
Health and science reporter, BBC News
There may be good news for people looking for an excuse to munch on a couple of squares of chocolate after a review showed the treat could reduce blood pressure.
An analysis of 20 studies showed that eating dark chocolate daily resulted in a slight reduction in blood pressure.
The Cochrane Group’s report said chemicals in cocoa, chocolate’s key ingredient, relaxed blood vessels.
However, there are healthier ways of lowering blood pressure.
The theory is that cocoa contains flavanols which produce a chemical in the body called nitric oxide. This ‘relaxes’ blood vessels making it easier for blood to pass through them, lowering the blood pressure.
The 100g of chocolate that had to be consumed daily in a number of the studies would also come with 500 calories – that’s a quarter of a woman’s recommended daily intake”
British Heart Foundation
However, studies have thrown up mixed results. The Cochrane analysis combined previous studies to see if there was really an effect.
There was a huge range in the amount of cocoa consumed, from 3g to 105g a day, by each participant. However, the overall picture was a small reduction in blood pressure.
A systolic blood pressure under 120mmHg (millimetres of mercury) is considered normal. Cocoa resulted in a 2-3mmHg reduction in blood pressure. However, the length of the trials was only two weeks so the longer term effects are unknown.
Lead researcher Karin Ried, from the National Institute of Integrative Medicine in Melbourne, Australia, said: “Although we don’t yet have evidence for any sustained decrease in blood pressure, the small reduction we saw over the short term might complement other treatment options and might contribute to reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease.”
High blood pressure is both common and deadly. It has been linked to 54% of strokes worldwide and 47% of cases of coronary heart disease.
However, chocolate packs plenty of fat and sugar as well as cocoa so is not the ideal way of lowering blood pressure.
Dark or milk?
There has also been a warning in the Lancet medical journal that dark chocolate may contain fewer flavanols than you might think. Dark chocolate contains a higher cocoa count than milk chocolate so should contain more flavanols, however, they can also be removed as they have a bitter taste.
Victoria Taylor, of the British Heart Foundation, said: “It’s difficult to tell exactly what sort of quantities of flavanol-rich cocoa would be needed to observe a beneficial effect and the best way for people to obtain it.
“With most of the studies carried out over a short period of time it’s also not possible to know for sure whether the benefits could be sustained in the long term. The 100g of chocolate that had to be consumed daily in a number of the studies would also come with 500 calories – that’s a quarter of a woman’s recommended daily intake.
“Beans, apricots, blackberries and apples also contain flavanols and, while containing lower amounts than in cocoa, they won’t come with the unhealthy extras found in chocolate.”
Did you know?
One upon a time, chocolate was used as a medicine. In the 18th century, they used chocolate to cure stomach-ache!
According to survey, from sale of chocolates and canvassing people, more chocolates are eaten in winters more than any other seasons. I supposed winter covers Christmas, New Year and Valentine’s Day when chocolates are a popular gift.
U.S. chocolate manufacturers are using about 3.5 million pounds of whole milk daily to make delicious milk chocolate.
It seems, yours truly is not the only one partial to Belgian chocolate. Apparently Belgium produces 172,000 tons of chocolate each year!
Quality Street – Photo by JMorton
This made me laugh out loud:
A sign you’re chocoholic: You’ve actually stolen candy from a baby.
– Frist for Women magazine.
Have you?!!! 😉
………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………… Cacao beans are a natural source of magnesium, which has been found helpful in relieving premenstrual syndrome. 😉 There you go, a handful of Quality Street will sort you out.
Cocoa beans are rigorously selected. Those which are found to be imperfect are sold in the market cheaply or thrown into the compost heap.
Cacao trees are rather delicate to look after. It is not unknown that farmers and growers lose an average of 30 per cent of their crops annually.