Dark chocolate is alluring, dreamy, and divine. There is truly a magical energy to it. Its bittersweet taste tends to leave us feeling comforted. With cravings heightened all year long, our love for chocolate knows! And, lucky for us, dark chocolate is now referred to as a healthy treat.
A Sweet History
It was within the rainforest of Central America in 1900 B.C. during the ancient Mesoamericans reign that first cacao plants were cultivated. Historians found evidence that the Mesoamericans would ground the cocoa beans into a paste and mix it with water, sweeteners, and spices to brew a flavorful drink. Both the Mayans and Aztecs believed the cacao bean had magical properties, they would use chocolate during sacred rituals of birth, marriage, and death.
The use of chocolate grew in popularity during the Spanish Conquest in the 1500s. By the 17th century, chocolate was a fashionable drink throughout Europe, believed to have nutritious, medicinal, and even aphrodisiac properties. It was a drink for the wealthy, a treat rich in flavor and in price. It was in 1847 when Joseph Fry created the first modern chocolate bar. He used molds to hold melted chocolate mixed with Dutch Cocoa. Cadbury, an English company, started selling packaged chocolates that were used for gifts, parties, and tea time. Their popularity sparked a craze and in 1866 Nestle was born.
Chocolate also played an important role during the Revolutionary War. After dumping the Boston Tea Party, the revolutionaries drank coffee and hot chocolate! At this time, cocoa beans were cheap. “They weren’t taxed the same way tea was due to being shipped directly from the Caribbean and South and Central America into ports in the South, Philadelphia, New York, and Boston. At the start of the Revolutionary war there were more chocolate factories in the colonies than there were in England.”
Healthy Just Got Decadent
Dark chocolate is not only tasty but is rich in health benefits! Based on its abundance of antioxidants, dark chocolate can positively affect the mood by stimulating the production of endorphins which result in that happy feeling. Our favorite treat has also been shown to:
- Reduce stress levels
- Strengthen gut health (hello, healthy digestion!)
- Boost Immunity
- Improve Heart Health
- Reduce Blood Pressure
It’s important to keep in mind that while dark chocolate is healthy, you should still watch your portions. (Moderation is key – too much of anything is rarely a good thing.) We recommend looking for dark chocolate that’s organic, fair trade, non-GMO, with the highest percent of cocoa. Always check the label and be sure you see cocoa (beans or powder) and cocoa butter/oil. When looking for something sweeter, look for chocolate treats with unrefined sugar.
In terms of micronutrients, dark chocolate is surprisingly high in quite a few important nutrients, compounds, and minerals, including:
- Phosphorus, zinc, and selenium (in smaller amounts)
To get your daily dose of mood enhancing, immunity-supporting, nutritious dark chocolate with our recipes: