On Valentine’s Day, giving chocolate to your friends, family or significant other is considered to be an expression of love. While the delicious treat can be a great gift, it also comes with health benefits and a rich history.
A Delicious History
Chocolate has fascinated humans for thousands of years. The Mayan and Aztec civilizations were the first to discover cocoa beans, the most important ingredient in chocolate.
Mayans used cocoa beans for wedding ceremonies. The bride and groom would exchange sips of a cocoa-infused drink to make the marriage official. The Mayans also considered cocoa beans so valuable that they used them as a form of currency.
Europeans were the first to use cocoa beans to make candy, but the story of how they discovered them has been debated by historians for decades. During the 16th century, Spanish explorers found cocoa beans during their travels and brought them back to Spain. Several legends explain how cocoa beans ended up in the hands of the explorers.
For example, some scholars believe that Christopher Columbus found cocoa beans in a trade ship he intercepted. Columbus and his men detained a ship coming from the Yucatán Peninsula and examined its cargo, where they found sacks filled with cocoa beans. Another legend says that another Spanish explorer, Hernan Cortes, was introduced to cocoa beans by the Aztecs of Montezuma’s court.
It wasn’t until 1861 that Richard Cadbury — the son of the founder of CADBURY, the British chocolate company — created the first heart-shaped chocolate box. It became an instant success. Since Cadbury didn’t have a patent on the heart-shaped box, every chocolate company copied their design, making it a Valentine’s Day tradition.
Since then, chocolate has been an essential part of Valentine’s Day love stories.
Read some BJU love stories in this article.
Health Benefits of Chocolate
Recently, BJU’s Instagram page polled students on their favorite kind of chocolate. Students chose from milk, dark and white chocolate. The results: 609 students voted for milk chocolate, 122 for white chocolate, and an astounding 683 students chose dark chocolate, making it the favorite. But which one is healthier?
The United States alone consumes over 2.8 billion pounds of chocolate a year. John Hopkins University says that eating too much chocolate can be unhealthy, but as long as you have a healthy relationship with chocolate, it can help you combat diabetes, balance your immune system, and improve your brain function.
The higher the percentage of cocoa, the healthier the chocolate bar is. Therefore, dark chocolate has the most health benefits. The average dark chocolate bar has 60–100% cocoa solids while milk chocolate must only have a minimum of 10% cocoa solids by the standards of the Food and Drug Administration.
Dark chocolate may also help you fight COVID-19. A recent study by North Carolina State University found that the chemical compounds found in certain foods, including dark chocolate, can interfere with COVID-19’s ability to replicate and cause symptoms.
Regardless which is your favorite, treat yourself and your friends to a delicious piece of chocolate this Valentine’s Day.