Religiously consumed by the Aztec warrior Montezuma as he prepared for his harem, served as a hot frothy delicacy at Mesoamerican weddings and nibbled by legendary lovers Casanova and Marquis de Sade—cocoa and its derivative, chocolate, have been undeniably linked to passion throughout history. However, no one knows exactly why. It could be the mood-elevating serotonin it contains, or the stimulus provided by its trace amounts of caffeine and theobromine, or possibly the energy burst supplied by its typical companion, sugar. Whatever the connection, actual scientific evidence proving any “effects” in the love department is lacking.
But what has been proven is that some cocoa compounds are beneficial to the organ most famously linked to love—the heart. In January 2006, researchers at UC Davis, along with the Heinrich Heine University of Dusseldorf, Germany, and Harvard Medical School, published findings pinpointing a flavonol called epicatechin that is in part responsible for the heart-healthy benefits of certain cocoas and some chocolate products. In this research, epic-atechin was directly linked to improved circulation and other hallmarks of cardiovascular health. The report follows other findings published in 2002, in Journal of the American Medical Association, from another UC Davis study whose participants, after eating 25 grams of semisweet dark chocolate, had a significant reduction in platelet activity in their blood, which typically reduces risk of blood clots. Sure, there are healthier ways to help your heart than devouring a rich, dark chocolate bar, but few are as much fun.
It happened in Honduras
Researchers from UC Berkeley and Cornell University claim to have unearthed the oldest evidence of chocolate being consumed: elaborately designed bowls used by the Aztecs to serve liquid chocolate, dating back to 1600 B.C.
Wine and Chocolate
According to the Chocolate Manufacturers Association, champagne and sparkling wines do not pair well with mild or dark chocolate because of their acidity, which reacts with chocolate to produce an unpleasantly tart taste. Instead, try white chocolate with champagne and red wines with dark chocolate.