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Nutrition. 2009 Nov-Dec;25(11-12):1100-3. doi: 10.1016/j.nut.2009.08.002.

Chocolate and medicine: dangerous liaisons?

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Department of Anatomy, Histology and Legal Medicine, University of Florence, Italy.


According to ancient Mayan texts, cocoa is of divine origin and is considered a gift from the gods. In the Classic period of Mayan civilization (250-900 a.d.), ground cocoa seeds were mixed with seasonings to make a bitter, spicy drink that was believed to be a health-promoting elixir. The Aztecs believed that cocoa pods symbolized life and fertility, and that eating the fruit of the cocoa tree allowed them to acquire wisdom and power. Cocoa was said to have nourishing, fortifying, and aphrodisiac qualities. Pre-Columbian societies were known to use chocolate as medicine, too. The appreciation and popularity of chocolate fluctuated over the centuries since its introduction to Europe from the New World. Now, recent evidence has begun to erase the poor reputation that chocolate had acquired in the past few decades and is restoring its former status. Chocolate is no longer deemed a guilty pleasure, and it may have positive health benefits when eaten in moderation as part of a balanced diet.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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