The Medicinal Benefits of Chocolate

Cocoa powder does more than bring great pleasure to the tongue and soul. In its pure form, it’s potent herbal medicine.

| November/December 1999

We all know chocolate is just sin on a spoon, right? Well, it turns out that this food that health nuts love to hate is packed with health benefits. Recent scientific research shows that this powerhouse nutrient increases a sense of well-being, fights oxidation in body tissues, stimulates pleasure centers and the immune system, and may even help you live longer.

Chocolate was originally an herbal medicine. Spaniards who drank liquid cocoa with the Aztec emperor Montezuma called it “the Indian Nectar” and were impressed by its ability to enhance alertness and treat indigestion.

Chocolate is probably one of our most complicated foods. There are literally thousands of chemical compounds in an ordinary chocolate bar, the result of grinding and roasting the cocoa beans. Here’s what researchers are discovering about some of these chemicals.

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