The history of Cocoa
Cocoa: A bevereage Made from the cocoa bean was once considered the drink of Gods!
Cocoa is ancient. it is a beverage that has been around for centuries. Archaeologists discovered cocoa beans in the burial chambers of the Olmecs who thrives in 1500- 400 BC. The Oltecs might have been the first users of cocoa but the Mayans soon fell in love with the drink.
They called this concoction chocolatl and drank cocoa powder mixed with spices and herbs. Mainly used by the kings and upper class, the beans were prized and sometimes used as currency. Perhaps even the ancients knew that cocoa had tremendous health benefits.
Ancient Rulers Tasted Magic
The Mayans and Oltecs drank a very different version of hot cocoa than we think of. They added cocoa powder to hot water, wine, spices and peppers. This bitter and spicy drink was often reserved for kings and court. The process of creating the cocoa powder and special mixtures was often secret, like a trademark recipe.
Once the Spanish got a hold of it the drink took on a life of its own. Soon people of all classes was clamoring for the now sweetened hot chocolate drinks and after dinner treat. Cocoa beans became the newest craze for bakers and dessert makers all over Europe. You can see our Cocoa recipes here.
Powerful nutrition in a delightful beverage
Nowadays people are discovering the powerful nutritional benefits of the cocoa bean. Recent research has found that the flavonoids in chocolate are more powerful than vitamins such as ascorbic acid in protecting circulating lipids from oxidation. And researchers discovered that people who eat chocolate and sweets up to three times each month live almost a year longer than people who eat too much or folks that steer clear of junk altogether. (This is from a study done at the Harvard School of Public Health)
It seems like the ancient Olmecs and Mayans might have been onto something when they declared chocolat a divine drink!
Make Sure you are Drinking the Right Cocoa!
Don't settle for fake hot chocolate when you can have real delicious hot cocoa. Hot cocoa not only tastes better is is so much better for you. The best way to make sure you are getting the real deal is to start with quality cocoa powder. The best cocoa powder is organic cocoa which is dark brown and will taste bitter.
Try something different
You can make your own hot beverage by mixing this powder with hot water or just like when you were a kid: real milk. Milk substitutes like: soy milk, coconut milk or rice milk are great for those who are lactose intolerant or who just want to try something different. You can sweeten your drink by adding sugar, honey or agave nectar.
Hot cocoa could be the best tasting nutritional supplement you have ever had. "Nowhere else has nature compressed such a store of the most valuable nutrients into such a small place as it has with the cocoa bean," the researcher Alexander von Humboldt (1769-1859) once said.
Eating a moderate amount of sweets pays off. Researchers from the Harvard School of Public Health found that eating chocolate or other sweets several times each month live nearly one year longer than individuals who over indulge in sweets and even people who eliminate eating junk food altogether.
A study done by Cornell researchers, headed by Chang Y. (Cy) Lee, states that the reason cocoa won out over the other drinks is because of its high concentration of phenolic phytochemicals, or flavonoids. These flavanoids indicate a high level of antioxidants that perhaps prevent cancer, reduce the risk of heart disease and other health issues. Dr Lee said "Phenolic compounds protect plants against insects and pathogens, and they remain active even after food processing."
Reduce pain and anxiety naturally!
Cocoa contains several bioactive compounds that promote alertness, lessen pain and promote a natural feeling of well-being. For example, one such element, Tryptophan, reduces anxiety by producing serotonin. The compounds in cocoa also produce endorphins which lessen sensitivity to pain.
Aztec hot chocolate was beleived to be magical because they also noticed the corrilation between drinking cocoa and feeling good.
Scientists prove what the ancients already knew
Cocoa is indeed a heavenly drink. Not just for its taste but also for it's nutrative qualities.
Harvard researcher, Dr Vinson and his colleagues discovered that the flavonoids in chocolate are even more powerful than vitamins used for anti oxidation. Studies in Atherosclerosis show that the oxidation of lipoproteins is one of the ways that plaque clogs artery walls.
Food scientists from Cornell University state that they have discovered that cocoa ingredients have almost twice the antioxidants of red wine and nearly three times the antioxidants of green tea.
Try hot cocoa without dairy
Even though cocoa beans have 500 times more antioxidants than blueberries; studies indicate that adding a diary product actually blocks the body's ability to properly absorb them. In order to get the most antioxidants, mix ground cocoa with non-dairy liquids for hot chocolate, smoothies or shakes. You can enjoy drinking cocoa if it is hot or cold but heating the cocoa triggers the release of more antioxidants.
Don't let the picture on the hot chocolate packet fool you. Check the ingredients! The primary ingredient in most commercial hot chocolate mixes is sugar. The rest is fat, fillers and artificial flavors. Why settle for a facsimile when you can have the real deal? Real hot cocoa is not only better nutritionally it tastes better too!. The hot creamy cocoa you loved as a kid is now a health food. A guilt free pleasure that's good for you too. You can enjoy a rich cup of hot cocoa every day - just tell your friend it's a nutritional supplement.
This ancient beverage has claimed it place in modern gastronomy. treat yourself to the real thing.