Sunday, 30 December 2007

Bitter water

So how much bitter water did you have over Christmas? When the Spanish arrived in Mexico they came across the Aztecs. The Aztec language is called Nahuatl. Like most Mesoamerican peoples, the Aztecs had a drink which they made from a bean they called zoco (bitter). They would put this bean into water (atl) to produce XOCO-ATL (bitter water). The TL sound is common in the Aztec language but not in Spanish. The Spaniards mispronounced the drink CHOCOLATO. This drink, whose use was first documented in 1100 BC, was brought to Europe (with sugar added) where the pronunciation and spelling in English became CHOCOLATE.

The GOOD NEWS - Recent studies have suggested that cocoa or dark chocolate may possess certain beneficial effects on human health. Dark chocolate, with its high cocoa content, is a rich source of the falavinoids, epicatechin and gallic acid, which are thought to possess cardioprotective properties. Cocoa possesses a significant anti-oxidant action. Some studies have also observed a modest reduction in blood pressure after consuming approximately 100g of dark chocolate daily.

The BAD NEWS - Consuming milk chocolate or white chocolate, or drinking fat-containing milk with dark chocolate, appears largely to negate the health benefit. Processed cocoa powder (so called Dutch chocolate), processed with alkali greatly reduces the antioxidant capacity as compared to "raw" cocoa powder. Chocolate is also a calorie-rich food with a high fat content, so daily intake of chocolate also requires reducing caloric intake of other foods.

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