You already know that the ancient Aztecs used the beans of xoxolatl (the original name for chocolate) as currency. And you’ve probably already seen that meme saying that since chocolate comes from the cacao tree, it is a plant and therefore can be considered a salad, too. There are many health and happiness benefits to being a chocoholic. Here are 10 more facts about our favorite sweet treat that not many know about:
10. Dark Chocolate helps fight diseases. As if we needed more reasons to love chocolate, right? But in case someone tries to stop you from eating that 70% cacao dark chocolate bar, tell them that what you’re consuming is technically a “health snack.” According to “Food Cures”, a book published by Reader’s Digest, Dark Chocolate is loaded with nutrients such as Potassium, Vitamins A, B1, C, D and E, Iron and plenty of flavonoids that fight cancer, reduce the risk of heart disease and improve insulin-sensitivity (to prevent diabetes). A 15-year study called “Zutphen Elderly Study” (participated in by 470 elderly men) showed that cocoa reduced the risk of cardiovascular death by a whopping 50%!
9. It could help boost your memory. Do you keep forgetting where you stored your keys? Or maybe you’re studying up for an exam? Try snacking on dark chocolate. A small study by Columbia University Medical Center showed that the antioxidants in cocoa can improve some memory skills that people lose with age, by improving blood flow to the brain.
8. Chocolate relieves pain. Chocolate doesn’t just relieve sorrow or pick you up from a bad day, it also contains tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), a natural anti-inflammatory and pain reliever. Chocolate can also lower internal eye pressure and improve eyesight in those suffering from glaucoma. Do you know what other plant has THC? Cannabis.
7. The aroma of chocolate helps the brain relax. Feeling stressed out? Grab yourself a cup of cocoa and breathe in that delicious smell — it increases theta brain waves, which gives relaxation and helps your brain cope with stress or anxiety.
6. Raw chocolate actually helps protect your teeth from decay. The compound CBH found in cocoa, is a white crystalline powder similar to caffeine. It helps harden tooth enamel, which fights against tooth decay and plaque. Some dentists now recommend chewing cacao nibs, because a study has shown it is better than fluoride in protecting teeth. If that’s not palatable for you, then try dark chocolate with the least sugar in it —the sugar actually triggers the acids that attack the teeth’s surface, so the less sugar, the better.
5. Death by chocolate can happen – to animals! Pets, especially small cats and dogs, are not built to tolerate cacao (they digest the chemical theobromine slowly), so please don’t feed them chocolate. The lethal dosage for pets is between 250 and 500mg per kg of body weight, which means if Fido were a Chihuahua, a small bar is toxic already. For human beings, it is about 22 lbs., or approximately 40 Hershey bars in one sitting.
4. Got a bad cough? Try dark chocolate instead. The alkaloid Theobromine found in cocoa has been found to be more effective than most cough medicines. Maybe next time you feel like coughing, try cocoa liquor (chocolate in its purest form), or sucking on a small square of dark chocolate to relieve your irritated throat.
3. The galleon trade brought cocoa to the Philippines, but it wasn’t until 1665 that the Governor General requested to cultivate cacao locally. It’s no surprise that the ancient Filipinos accepted Chocolate just as quickly as they did Christianity. Then in 1778 the Dutch brought cacao seeds from the Philippines to Jakarta, and from there it travelled on to Sulawesi, Java and then to Sri Lanka and India towards the end of the 18th century.
2. The Philippines has its own “Chocolate Queen.” Raised in the mountains of Cebu by her grandmother, Raquel T. Choa learned how to make tablea the traditional way. For her passion to elevate Filipino Chocolate and make it on par with the best in the world, she was given the title “Chocolate Queen” of Cebu. Her boutique chocolate shop, The Chocolate Chamber (TCC), was among the stops during the APEC Summit 2015. She has also been invited abroad to share her story, such as the TEDxChiangMai and The Women’s Forum in Guam, among others. But beyond learning new techniques to transform cacao beans, the Chocolate Queen also gives support to local cacao farmers by putting the Philippines on the world map of chocolate-making.
1. The Philippines now has its first-ever Chocolate Tour! Learn how Philippine cacao beans are harvested and made into luxurious chocolate creations by the “Chocolate Queen” herself. In addition to the Sinulog Festival and its world-famous Lechon, the Queen City of the South offers you another exciting reason to visit: The Chocolate Tour of Cebu. Offered by The Chocolate Chamber (TCC), visitors can now embark on a unique journey of gastronomic proportions, and get a taste of one of the best artisan delights in the country, and quite possibly, the world.
The Chocolate Tour has three options:
First is the Chocolate Journey where guests will enter the home of Casa De Cacao and meet Cebu’s Chocolate Queen, Raquel T. Choa – whose passion for Philippine cacao and tablea is making ripples in the culinary world today. They will taste the rich and delightful tradition of indigenous chocolate-making, and savor delectable treats garnished with legends that nourish not only the tastebuds, but also the heart and soul.
For the 1521 Chocolate High Tea at The Chocolate Chamber café, guests will feel like royalty from 15:21-17:21 (3:21pm to 5:21pm). Take a step back in time, and see the Spanish influence in chocolate-making and drinking in the Philippines. The high tea includes treats fit for royals, such as lemon and raisin scones infused with cocoa butter with homemade marmalade and tablea peanut butter, hand-rolled tablea truffles, artisan sandwiches infused with 100% cacao liquor, green salad garnished with cacao nibs, and a choice of TCC’s or flavored hot or cold chocolate drink. On ala carte is the famous TCC chocolate pizza where they can experience the savory side of chocolate. Made with cacao liquor-infused dough, topped with mole sauce and garnished with tomato, arugula, sausage and cacao nibs, and drizzled with cocoa butter. A special tablea truffle is a surprise centerpiece.
The third option is a Chocolate Stop at the TCC Boutique in Sarrosa Hotel, where guests will enjoy a sensory experience — from interiors lined with 100% cacao liquor, to unforgettable tasting kits that include various chocolate creations such as pralines and alfajores, all lovingly made from cacao.
About the Chocolate Queen of Cebu
Raquel’s passion for Philippine cacao has garnered her the title “The Chocolate Queen of Cebu” and has led her to create the Cacao de Filipinas Fellowship (CFF) in which she shares the bounty and beauty of the advocacy to all. CFF is a non-profit organization caring for, teaching and empowering cacao farmers and their families, starting in her hometown of Balamban, Cebu. Through CFF, Raquel and TCC give recognition and appreciation to the Filipino cacao farmers. Their noble work is where the chocolate journey starts and ends.
In addition, Raquel is often invited to speak at global conferences, becoming an ambassador of Philippine cacao farming, industry and creations to the world.
“Philippine Cacao has a distinct flavor that is unique to our country. It’s a treasure that we must share with the rest of the world,” says Raquel, founder of TCC. “Authentic Philippine chocolate is something we can be proud of, and impart to the next generation — so that we can all savor and share a rich Philippine tradition.”
If you love chocolate and fascinating stories, join the first Chocolate Tour of Cebu and learn about the evolution of homegrown Philippine cacao, set in the beautiful island of Cebu.
The Chocolate Chamber
Any chocolate fun facts you can share with us? Have you tried The Chocolate Chamber?