Having highlighted the ancient Maya’s cultivation and use of cacao for many years, The Lodge at Chaa Creek’s Natural History Centre and Spa staff welcome recent scientific studies that once again point to the benefits of consuming chocolate, Spa manager Bryony Fleming said today.
The new Australian study, supported by an Australian Research Council grant, used a mathematical model to predict the long term effects of daily dark chocolate consumption on people at risk of cardio vascular disease or stroke. The researchers concluded that yes, chocolate is good for you.
"Dark chocolate may be a pleasant and effective way of delivering important dietary components that can provide health benefits to the ever increasing numbers of people at increased risk of cardiovascular disease," researcher Christopher Reid, PhD, professor of cardiovascular epidemiology and preventive medicine at Monash University in Australia said this week.
Reid's team computed the number of heart attacks and strokes that would occur with and without the dark chocolate, and concluded that eating 100 grams of dark chocolate a day for ten years would prevent 70 nonfatal and 15 fatal heart attacks and strokes per 10,000 people over 10 years.
Dr Joe Vinson, PhD, professor of chemistry at the University of Scranton in the USA and a long-time chocolate researcher, said that although the study had limitations in that "It's all theoretical based on statistics," even so, "It’s wonderful news again on the health effects of dark chocolate for people who have a little higher risk (of heart problems) than the normal person."
However, he recommends eating less than the 100 grams used in the model. He suggests about 40 grams, or about one chocolate bar, daily.
Dr Reid suggested that the chocolate should be dark and at least 60%-70% cocoa.
Ms Fleming said the study is further proof of what the ancient Maya knew all along. “The Maya were a very wise civilisation, one of the most advanced societies of their time. They would not have held chocolate, or xocoatl as it was known in Mesoamerica, in such high esteem over thousands of years if there wasn’t some reason for it,” she said.
Ms Fleming said the Chaa Creek Spa uses chocolate in several natural therapies, including a chocolate wrap that has many of the active ingredients of cacao absorbed through the skin.
“You can see people’s skin take on a glow, and they report feelings of peaceful wellbeing afterwards” she said, and pointed out that the Chaa Creek Maya Organic Farm, which supplies the eco-resort’s restaurant, grows cacao from local strains developed thousands of years ago in Belize.
“There’s so much continuity with chocolate in Belize. Many of our staff are of Maya descent, and we’re using cacao their ancestors cultivated well before the birth of Christ and considered sacred because of its many benefits. And now, to have modern science confirm something that’s such an important part of our local Maya culture is very satisfying.
“And, of course, it’s a proven fact that chocolate is delicious," Ms Fleming said.