Cadbury...Godiva...Ghirardelli... Hershey... Lindt. Chocoholics beware: Today is National Chocolate Day. As if you needed the perfect excuse to devour some delectable "feel good" food.
Actress Katharine Hepburn, a notorious brownie lover, once said, "What you see before you, my friend, is the result of a lifetime of chocolate."
Chocolate is made from the seeds of the tropical cacao tree, theobroma cacao, which means "food of the gods." Cacao grows 15-20 feet tall with fruits shaped like pods. Each pod holds about 20-50 beans.
The first known cacao plantations were established in South America's Yucatan by the Mayans in 600 A.D. According to Aztec Indian legend, the cacao tree came from Paradise and eating its fruit gave man wisdom and power.
"Once in a while I say, ‘Go for it’ and I eat chocolate," confessed model Claudia Schiffer. Obviously, the luxury of chocolate is worth the calories.
It is believed that in 1502, Christopher Columbus brought back cacao beans to King Ferdinand from the New World. The first chocolate bar was made in 1828 when Conrad Van Houten, a Dutch chemist, invented a cocoa press that mixed cocoa butter with finely ground sugar.
Writer Geneen Roth explained, "Chocolate is no ordinary food. It is not something you can take or leave, something you like only moderately. You don't like chocolate. You don't even love chocolate. Chocolate is something you have an affair with."
AND Chocolate can be good for you in small doses. Research has shown that the cocoa-based confection, which contains chemicals called flavanols, can improve blood flow and reduce blood pressure. Flavanols are found in apples, red wine, and green tea.
Studies also showed that chocolate contains, phenyl ethylamine, the same chemical that your brain produces when you fall in love. So, indulge!