Sunday, 23 December 2012


Chocolate is made from the seeds of the tropical cacao tree. The Greek term means literally "food of the gods". Cacao beans were used by the Aztecs to prepare a hot, frothy drink with stimulant and restorative properties. Chocolate itself was reserved for warriors, nobility and priests because the Aztecs valued its ability to confer wisdom and vitality.

I have been telling people for years about the importance of red wine, chocolate and exercise! We know that chocolate contains essential amino acids important in the production of serotonin and that enhanced serotonin levels typically reduce anxiety. Consumption of chocolate triggers the release of endorphins, the body's natural painkillers, which reduces the chocolate-eater's sensitivity to pain. Endorphins are wonderful things and contribute to that warm inner glow you get after exercise, a glass of wine or eating chocolate. Interestingly, a study of 8000 male Harvard graduates showed that chocoholics lived longer than those who avoided all sweet things. Their long life may be explained by the high polyphenol levels in chocolate since polyphenols protect against heart disease.

Now the most important bit because chocolate makes you clever and scientific trials suggest chocolate consumption subtly enhances cognitive performance with scores for verbal and visual memory being raised by eating chocolate! Impulse-control and reaction-times are also improved! We also know that at a "symposium" at the American Association for the Advancement of Science, more evidence was presented suggesting that chocolate consumption can be good for the brain. Experiments with chocolate-fed mice suggest that it stimulates neurovascular activity, enhances memory and increases alertness.

So whatever you do this Christmas, eat chocolate!

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