In honor of National Chocolate Day on 10/28, we’re celebrating by sharing 13 little known facts that you may not have known about chocolate, even if you happen to be the most die-hard chocoholic around!
1. Chocolate is nature’s happy drug! Several naturally occurring chemicals found within cacao, the main constituent of dark chocolate, have a definite and scientifically proven effect on our nervous system and brain chemistry. The compounds tryptophan, phenylethylamine, anandamide, and theobromine react with our brain chemistry to inspire sensations of euphoria, mainly by triggering a release of serotonin.
2. Cacao has been found to contain over 500 compounds, making it one of the most chemically complex foods on the planet.
3. Craving chocolate during that time of the month? It is likely due to the fact that cacao is a remarkable source of magnesium which helps ease the symptoms of PMS.
4. Candy that actually improves oral health!? Cacao contains certain chemicals, mainly bitter alkaloids, with may help to fight an overpopulation of harmful bacteria within the mouth. Just be sure to choose brands that are low in sugar.
5. Swedish botanist Carl Linnaeus gave the cacao tree its official scientific name – Theobroma Cacao – which translates to “Food of the Gods”.
6. Even though cacao isn’t native to this country, Americans consume nearly half of the world’s total annual supply of chocolate, with 5% of the total sales happening on Valentine’s Day.
7. Newer genetic testing reveals that the plant Theobroma Cacao first grew wild in the Orinoco Valley of Venezuela, then spread up into Mexico where it was then cultivated.
8. George and Martha Washington, Thomas Jefferson and Benjamin Franklin all enjoyed consuming drinking chocolate.
9. Cacao beans were once used a form of currency by the ancient Aztecs and Mayans, civilizations who once ruled over most of Mesoamerica.
10. Famous Aztec ruler Montezuma may have been the first recorded chocoholic, reportedly consuming up to 50 cups of drinking chocolate, known as xocolatl, every single day.
11. Cacao beans grow within large football shaped pods, which range in color from yellow, green, orange, brown and red. Each pod contains about 40 beans which are surrounded by a white fleshy fruit. It takes around 1,000 of these beans to create just 1KG of chocolate liquor, the base ingredient in chocolate bars.
12. Due to cacao’s natural phenylethylamine (PEA) content, eating chocolate has been found to increase people’s heart rate and cause a more intense and longer lasting buzz than kissing. It also serves as a natural aphrodisiac….
13. It’s downright delicious – but wait, everybody knows this!
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