The Aztecs valued chocolate so much their taxation was levied in cocoa beans! The hot frothy drink they made was reserved for warriors, nobility and priests and was said to confer wisdom and vitality. Emperor Montezuma, not one for moderation, drank 50 goblets a day.
Scientists have suggested that the antioxidants and flavonoids in chocolate with at least 70% cocoa improve verbal and visual memory, reaction times, balance certain hormones, help to relieve blood pressure and boost serotonin levels, our brain’s natural anti-depressant. All good reasons to indulge a little, especially this month.
And what could be nicer on a cold Valentine’s Day than snuggling up with your romantic other and a cup of hot chocolate? Use high-quality cocoa powder, preferable organic and fair trade, and make a hot drink, sweetened with honey.
Then cook the object of your affections an authentic Mexican chilli dish by adding cocoa to the sauce. The nutrient capsaicin, found in chillies, is a powerful antioxidant which helps to prevent many conditions such as high cholesterol, heart and lung diseases and cataracts. It also stimulates blood circulation which boosts the immune system and it even relieves pain.
Chocolate and chillies both encourage the secretion of endorphins, natural chemicals which relax muscle tissue, and act as mood enhancers. The perfect recipe for love!
By Louise Addison