by Joanna Millward
Bristol School of Chemistry
Chocolate has been around for more than 3000 years. The Aztecs and Mayans from America use to grind the chocolate bean into a bitter hot cacao drink as well as using the cacao beans for currency. In 1519 a Spanish explorer Hernan Cortez sent it back to Spain with recipes on how to convert cacao to chocolate, and from Spain it spread to the rest of Europe.
The world now has a passion for chocolate with the average Brit eating 16 pounds of chocolate a year while a Swiss eats 21 pounds annually.
Rich in carbohydrates, chocolate is an excellent source of quick energy however it also contains minute amounts of the stimulating alkaloids and other chemically active ingredients which could lead to the "feel good" feeling and cravings associated with chocolate.