Chocolate grows on a tree. Kind of like fruit.
Well, as a seed (bean) in a pod.
On a tree.
Not just any tree, but the Theobroma Cacao tree which grows only within 20 degrees above or below the equator.
Not without reason, “theobroma cacao” translates to “food of the gods” - and chocolate is indeed a food of the gods.
From the time of its discovery by the Olmecs of Mesoamerica, Theobroma cacao has served many functions, from medicinal to edible. As empires rose and fell, subsequent civilizations all valued and celebrated cacao. Cacao was a privilege – considered sacred and reserved for the elite few. It was sacred, and used in sacrifices, offerings, death rites and ceremonies.
Historical documents from the Americas and also from Europe have verified cacao’s many medicinal benefits: which range from it having been used to treat fatigue, alleviate fever, treat the faint of heart while also improving digestion, stimulating the kidneys, improving cardiovascular health, having anti-inflammatory properties, treating anemia, anxiety, sorrow, depression and even tuberculosis.
Medicinal benefits of cacao are still enjoyed today - In fact you are probably enjoying them without even knowing it! It is why chocolate makes us happy! It contains the likes of: phenylethylamine (one of the chemicals your brain produces when you fall in love), and tryptophan (an amino acid linked to the production of serotonin, a neurotransmitter that produces feelings of happiness) as well as an endorphin called anandaminade (in fact chocolate is the only food known to contain anandaminade) which is our body’s natural antidepressant.
Indeed good quality craft chocolate contains hundreds of magnificent chemical compounds, thanks to cacao being one of the most complex foods found in the world.
If there was ever a super food, it would be cacao
image copyright Davina Goldammer Utz