Chocolate, especially dark chocolate, contains many compounds that may benefit human health. This entry offers a short overview of the history of chocolate and then describes these compounds.

Early History of Chocolate

When the Spanish conquistador Hernán Cortés landed in what is today Mexico, he found proof of the rumors of the wealth and riches of the Aztec Empire. Cortés especially noted a beverage called xocolatl made from cacao beans. Xocolatl had a great religious importance for the Aztecs and was used in ceremonies where offerings were made to the gods.

According to the Aztec religion, cacao came to humans with the god Quetzalcoatl, who was worshipped as a god by the Toltecs during the period 800–1100 CE. The god himself appeared as a winged serpent and was ...

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