October 28 is National Chocolate Day. Personally, I think it should be a statutory holiday where we all get the day off work to indulge in chocolate. Chocolate cake, chocolate ice cream, chocolate candies, chocolate…well, you get the idea.
A Celebration of Chocolate
Chocolate is the world’s number one flavour. This tasty substance was first discovered by the ancient Mayans, who used the extract of the cacao plant as a beverage in ancient rituals. Later, after it had been discovered and brought to Europe by the Spanish, chocolate became a symbol of royalty, available only to those rich or powerful enough to obtain it. In Renaissance-era France, chocolate was officially reserved specifically for members of the French Royal Court.
Today chocolate is the favourite dessert of the masses. Whether on its own or blended as a subtle flavour it’s used in countless foods and drinks worldwide. I think it’s about time we gave chocolate it’s due.
Chocolate is revered throughout the world and many countries have their own chocolate celebrations. In the country of Ghana, for instance, which is a major producer and exporter of chocolate, the government decreed that February 14 would henceforth become National Chocolate Day.
The thinking behind this was that the associated Valentine’s Day celebrations were corrupting the youth of the country and that a focus on chocolate for that day would reduce the “wanton immorality” on the part of young people on this day. Personally, I’m not so sure that was a good idea. After all, chocolate has been considered an aphrodisiac for centuries. The Ghanaian government may have more to deal with than they bargained for!
Chocolate comes with a surprising array of health benefits, various studies have shown that the chemicals in chocolate can boost your mood, lower your blood pressure and even improve your cardiovascular health. Technically, chocolate is actually a vegetable, it comes from the cacao tree found in Central America and Western Africa. Of course, we all know how important it is to eat our vegetables, right?
Despite all this, chocolate does have its detractors (clearly these people are no fun at all.) The two main criticisms are that it contributes to obesity and to the development of acne. The fact of the matter is that any food eaten in excess will cause obesity, not just chocolate. It’s a matter of maintaining moderation; everything in your diet has its place, including chocolate.
As for the acne, the actual causes of acne are related to diet, hormones and genetics. Some believe excess sugar contributes to the problem and thus label chocolate as a culprit. The evidence however, points to the fact that getting rid of acne is more a matter of eating a healthy diet overall, maintaining proper hygiene and avoiding food allergies. Paying attention to these factors is what’s really needed as a treatment for pimples.
Personally, I think the most important benefit of chocolate is that it simply tastes good. Don’t we all deserve to enjoy a break once in a while with the world’s greatest dessert? Even if chocolate were completely unhealthy, I’d argue the taste and psychological benefits would make it all worthwhile.
So remember, on October 28, feel free to celebrate National Chocolate Day without guilt and in whatever manner you see fit. Chocolate mousse, chocolate sauce, dark chocolate, white chocolate, the possibilities are endless!
Photo by David G-H