Home > Exercise, Nutrition & Well Being > Chocolate The Ancient Bittersweet Treat Available At Your Nearest Assisted Living Communities

Chocolate The Ancient Bittersweet Treat Available At Your Nearest Assisted Living Communities

November 3, 2010 Leave a comment Go to comments

Don’t start gorging chocolate by the pound for its underlying health benefits, at least not yet. Large quantities of the compounds which contribute to lowering cholesterol, maintaining a healthy heart and immune system are found in dark chocolate. Despite some of these known health benefits, chocolate has not been exactly renowned for yielding trim waistlines. Mars Company who is most famously known for manufacturing chocolate products such as M&Ms, Milky Way and the Mars bar financed a study to reveal the DNA or genome of the cacao tree. The discovery could not only lead to a larger supply of chocolate beans that are tastier and more nutritious, but also allow scientists to target the fat and oil content. Assisted living communities encourage seniors to indulge in a little bit of chocolate every day if their health conditions allow it.

For centuries chocolate has been associated with decadence, celebration, special occasion and privilege. Just about every party or special event is ridden with trays of luscious chocolate candies, large cream covered chocolate cakes or spreads of cocoa infused cupcakes. Independent and Assisted Living Community calendars are full of special occasions and events for seniors to enjoy. Staff and activity directors plan the events in collaboration with the facility nutritionists to serve delicious edible treats that seniors can have. Seniors get to enjoy the delicious taste of chocolate without imposing risk to their health.

Chocolate 2 by ~ohshrubbery on deviantART

A Little History Of Chocolate

The confectionery history of the cacao bean has a record of at least 4,000 years, when Egyptians displayed their pleasures set atop papyrus plates. “Sweetmeats,” as they were called, were being sold in the marketplace in 1566 BC. Yet chocolate didn’t appear on the scene until the ancient Aztec and Mayan cultures discovered the value of the cacao plant. It is reputed to have originated in the Amazon or Orinoco basin. In 1200 AD, the Aztecs believed that wisdom and power came from eating the fruit of the cocoa tree, and that it had nourishing, fortifying, and even aphrodisiac qualities. The Aztec emperor, Montezuma drank thick chocolate dyed red. The drink was so prestigious that it was served in golden goblets that were thrown away after only one use. He liked it so much that it was said he drank 50 goblets of it on a day to day basis.

Cocoa beans were also used for currency. Records show that 400 cocoa beans equaled one Zontli, while 8000 beans equaled one Xiquipilli. When the Aztecs conquered tribes or bought goods or services, they demanded their payment in cocoa! In the 1600s, the French court embraced chocolate and the chocolate craze, which now included candy, took hold in Paris and then conquered the rest of France. Chocolate’s reputation as an aphrodisiac flourished in the French courts. Art and literature was thick with erotic imagery inspired by chocolate. The Marquis de Sade became proficient in using chocolate to disguise poisons! Casanova was reputed for using chocolate with champagne to seduce the ladies.

Health Benefits Of Chocolate

Obviously, eating too much of anything can cause health problems. Chocolate intake is monitored amongst seniors in Assisted Living Communities for this reason. The cocoa butter in chocolate contains saturated fat which can increase blood cholesterol levels. High cholesterol can contribute to heart disease. However, recent research at the University of California reveals that chocolate carries high levels of chemicals known as phenolics. Some of these chemicals may help lower the risk of heart disease. Chocolate, coffee and tea are all plants that contain high levels of phenolics. Andrew Waterhouse, the lead researcher in this study is also a wine chemist. For several years, he has been studying the possible health benefits of antioxidant phenolics found in red wine. Waterhouse told us that phenolic compounds are found in all plant products, and that the plants “probably make them as protective agents and for improving their success at reproduction.” The bitter, astringent taste that these plants have is an indication of the phenolics found within.

So how do phenolics help prevent heart disease? Apparently, phenolics prevent fat like substances in the bloodstream from oxidizing and clogging the arteries. Waterhouse said, “It’s now believed that atherosclerosis, or the formation of plaque in the arteries, is caused by oxidation of LDL (low-density lipoproteins), that is one of the cholesterol particles. At first, this leads to subtle damage, and then eventually to the formation of advanced plaque.” The buildup of plaque can lead to clogging of the arteries, a major cause of heart attacks. It is unlikely that any of us will be consuming chocolate in the mass quantities that Montezuma did. Chocolate consumed in reasonable quantities can give you just what you need. There is no reason why seniors living a healthy lifestyle can’t indulge in chocolate every once in a while. Seniors should consult their doctor before drastically changing their eating habits. Sugar free chocolate or special chocolate for diabetics is recommended if you have to control your sugar intake.

800Seniors.com is a leading referral system in the Elderly Healthcare industry. We are located on 5400 Atlantis Court, Moorpark, California 93021. 800Seniors.com provides the perfect match between seniors searching for health care provisions such as Home Care, Home Health, Skilled Nursing, Hospice Care, Medical Supplies, as well as a variety of Assisted Living Baton Rouge and Care Homes nationwide. Take the confusion and hassle out of the search. For more information call 1-800-768-8221, visit http://800seniors.com or fax us your details at (805)517-1623.

About The Author: Gloria Ha’o Schneider is an expert in senior citizen and baby boomer issues. Her topics revolve around Senior Living and Healthcare to provide the latest information to this demographic as well as their families and loved ones.

  1. November 25, 2010 at 3:01 am

    Great information, always an excuse to eat more chocolate! Phenolics do sounds interesting, and I wish I had heard about them earlier. I recently read a report about the price of cocoa about to go up very high in the near future. Thanks sharing the information!

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