Chocolate, is it really devil's food?
For years chocolate has had the reputation for being a "guilty indulgence" - something with a distinctive and tempting flavour that was resistedby health-conscious individuals. This reputation can be seen in the factthat chocolate cake is called "devil's food."
Chocolate was viewed as an unhealthy ingredient for several reasons. Itwas usually associated with fat and refined sugar. It also contains caffeine.And it has been blamed for contributing to a variety of problems, from acneto heart disease and from colic to obesity.
Much of chocolate's bad reputation is undeserved. For example, the linkbetween chocolate and disorders such as obesity and heart disease is notthe fault of chocolate itself but rather all the high-fat, high-cholesterolbutter and cream that is used in chocolate candies and baked goods.
The other main nutritional concern with chocolate is its caffeine content.Caffeine is a powerful stimulant that can cause insomnia, irritability andsometimes anxiety attacks. However, chocolate and cocoa contain only a smallamount of caffeine. For example, a cup of coffee contains 5 to 10 timesas much caffeine as a cup of cocoa. A person would have to consume 40 cupsof hot chocolate a day to run any real medical risk.
Surprisingly, cocoa has actually been used for centuries as an herbal medicine.Central Americans have used cocoa to treat fevers, coughs and discomfortassociated with pregnancy.
And there is evidence that suggests cocoa can be a digestive aid that boostsblood flow to the heart, and can help anyone with chest congestion to breatheeasier. The one thing not in dispute is the unique and appealing taste thatchocolate possesses. There is really nothing quite like it.
Abundance, California Vegetarian Association, Sept/Oct 1994