Chocolate. Just the sound of the word can make your mouth water. For thousands of years people have used it for pleasure, worship and even as currency! This tasty treat that we have come to know and love has more than meets the eye. Much more than simple candy, chocolate has a great deal of magical power.
A Sweet History
Chocolate’s history can be traced back to Mesoamerica as early as 2000 BC where it was used in religious ceremonies. Processed from cacao seeds, it was primarily prepared as a beverage. Cacao seeds and drinks were offered to the gods.
Among the Aztecs, these all-important seeds were even used as currency and tax payments. Chocolate was highly valued and it was also reserved for nobles, warriors and priests as well as the gods. Luckily this food of the gods can be enjoyed by all of us today!
Chocolate was introduced to the Europeans as Spain explored the New World. At the time, chocolate was traditionally served as a bitter drink until Charles V of Spain added sugar and spice to the mix. It was an instant hit! Eventually the chocolate secret made its way through Europe and the rest they say is history.
We often think of chocolate as being unhealthy due to its sugar content. But chocolate has some interesting health properties. Scientific research indicates that dark chocolate contains a number of antioxidants, which can help fight free radicals and improve blood pressure and blood flow.
Even indigenous peoples have used cocoa as an antiseptic as well as a remedy for snakebite and parasites. When our physical bodies function well, then so do our sprits. Eating a little dark chocolate or raw organic cacao might just do your body and soul some good.
Most of us know from experience that chocolate not only tastes good but also makes us feel good. When you’re feeling low do you usually reach for something chocolate? Apparently there is more to chocolate than its flavor.
Chocolate contains tryptophan, an amino acid that works with the neurotransmitter serotonin to reduce anxiety. Consumption of chocolate also releases a variety of endorphins or happy hormones in the body and brain. So if a little chocolate makes you feel better, this could be part of the reason why.
Love, Sex and Chocolate
Chocolate’s magical properties are often associated with love and sex. A man often tries to woo a woman with a nice box of chocolates as a gift. But what makes chocolate the offering of choice? Interestingly, one of chocolate’s main ingredients is phenylethylamine or PEA for short. This is also known as the “love chemical.” This chemical releases dopamine and peaks during orgasm. So perhaps a little chocolate might get you in the mood for love!
Long before the modern scientific jargon, people already knew about chocolate’s power as an aphrodisiac. The famous Italian libertine lover Casanova was known to consume chocolate before seducing his women. And as history tells us, he loved more than just a few ladies.
Chocolate and Mindfulness
Aside from the physical and emotional magic that chocolate brings, it can help us spiritually. The pleasure of indulging in chocolate can be a meditative experience. It can help us develop mindfulness.
In our busy lives, we sometimes forget to stop and smell the roses. Taking a moment to enjoy small pleasures is so important. Chocolate can serve as a reminder to slow down and appreciate life. Try this exercise with a small piece of chocolate. Put it in your mouth and let it sit on your tongue for a while.
Focus all your attention on the sensations in your mouth: the taste, the texture and the way the chocolate dissolves and melts. Enjoy the experience and give thanks for it. A little chocolate magic can certainly go a long way!