There's a lot to love about chocolate

Samantha Frazier Gordon

Samantha Frazier Gordon

Remember when your parents told you that eating chocolate would give you cavities? Well, they were wrong.

Well, if you were eating dark chocolate they were wrong. The truth is dark chocolate has an anti-bacterial effect on the mouth and actually protects against tooth decay. And just in case you needed more reasons to indulge eating a small amount every day, it reduces the risk of heart disease by one third.

Research also suggests that dark chocolate boosts memory, attention span, reaction time and problem solving skills by increasing blood flow to the brain.

It can also improve the ability to see in low contrast situations such as driving in bad weather and it promotes lower blood pressure, which has positive effects on cholesterol levels, platelet function and insulin sensitivity. Plus, it tastes good. Because of the high content of flavanols, it stimulates production of endorphins and boosts levels of serotonin, so it may even make you feel better.

The word chocolate is derived from the Mayan word xocolatl meaning bitter water. Cacao beans come from Cacao trees, which in Latin are called Theobroma Cacao or food of the Gods. After the beans are removed from the pods they are fermented, dried, roasted and cracked to separate the nibs from the shells. The nibs are then ground to extract some cacao butter leaving a thick paste called chocolate liquor. From there other things may be added to reduce the bitterness such as sugar and other flavorings, but the purer the better.

To get the benefits that chocolate has to offer, the cacao content should be higher than 70 percent. If you find that dark chocolate is too bitter for your taste, you could always drink it.

The Aztec emperor Montezuma loved chocolate so much he drank 50 goblets of it every day, and his was flavored with chili peppers.

Now that’s some hot chocolate.