Just what the doctor ordered over Easter

  • Discover why we should all act like an Aztec emperor
  • Why a little of this sweet stuff can do you good
  • Great news for the future – a hug is not long away

Over a cold and windy Easter weekend I needed something to cheer me up.

So I set to with a bit of research.

It was a pleasure to discover that I, Ray Collins, am a descendant of Montezuma II – Emperor of the Aztecs.

Or maybe I was Montezuma in a past life.

I can just see myself draped in gold and feathers, sitting on a throne with an army of maidens to do my bidding. And if Montezuma’s wife was forever telling him he should give his chariot a wash and clear out the garage – then my theory is conclusive.

So why do I think I’m a long lost son of the Aztecs…?

Well apparently, Montezuma drank at least 50 cups (sorry, make that goblets) of chocolate every single day. And it wasn’t just because he liked curling up in front of a stone telly at night with a cup…

He drank this much chocolate because the cocoa bean was sacred. The ancient civilisations of the Aztecs and the Mayans used to offer cocoa beans to their Gods.

Not only this… the beans were so valued, they were used as currency (can you imagine that if we used chocolate coins in this country I’d eat my savings).

And, more importantly, these civilisations used cocoa beans for medicinal purposes.

It seems that, some 1,500 years on, western medicine is finally catching up…

How to prevent heart attacks with hot chocolate

I have found lots of research which suggests that enjoying a traditional cup of hot chocolate at bedtime can help lower blood pressure and protect you against the threat of a heart attack.

And get this…

It can help you as effectively as prescription medicine!

Once again it shows that foods (even enjoyable, so-called ‘naughty’ foods) have the power to mend us, protect us, and fight our corner.

In chocolate’s case, it’s the polyphenols and flavanoids that seem to act as a blood-pressure regulator to protect us from heart attacks and stroke.

In one trial (published in the American Medical Association’s Archives of Internal Medicine), 173 patients were studied over a course of 5 trials, 87 of whom were told to drink hot chocolate, against 86 who did not.

Out of those 5 trials, 4 showed that there was a reduction in both systolic and diastolic blood pressure over a period of two weeks… as much as if the participants had taken a course of blood pressure medication like beta blockers!

Put simply, this study suggests that drinking hot chocolate could reduce the risk of stroke by 20%, reduce the risk of coronary heart disease by 10%, and reduce the likelihood dying by 8%.

Hot chocolate or beta blockers…?

Hmmmm, I know which one I’d choose. After all, you try melting a marshmallow on a beta blocker; it’s impossible.

Now, we all know that chocolate isn’t something that should be consumed in vast quantities.

All right, I might ignore this rule on special occasions… Christmas, Easter, birthdays, Thursday, days when it’s raining etc etc… but the mass production of chocolate these days means there’s too much sugar and fat added to make it a truly healthy alternative.

Perhaps it is worth noting… and certainly something I need to remember – not all chocolate is good chocolate!

The good stuff is the cocoa rich dark bitter type, rather than overly milky sweetened types (even though this tastes fantastic!)

So chocolate should still be classed as an occasional treat rather than an essential part of your diet.

But all of this research just goes show – the health nags have got it all wrong. Chocolate, wine, beer, red meat, cheese… none of these taboo foods will do you any harm if enjoyed in moderation. In fact, they’ll ALL do you some good.

Even the occasional pizza or burger won’t kill you – and if it’s something you truly enjoy, then limit yourself to one a week, but don’t ban it. Being happy and healthy are the key to a good life – not being a size zero.

And talking of being happy and healthy…

The family gathering

One benefit of the warmer weather in the early part of last week was the chance to see Mum & Dad.

We sat in the garden together and chatted for a couple of hours, enjoying the sun.

Lara had made some lemon drizzle cake and portioned it up in individual paper wrapped pieces, and we took a flask of tea – and it was lovely.

Not perfect. But still a joy.

I haven’t hugged or kissed my parents for over a year, and that has been difficult for us as we are a tactile family, always have been.

At least we were together though, and that’s a start.

From what I hear on the radio and read in the newspapers it looks like more people will be able to visit loved ones in care homes too from the 12th April.

This is the best medicine for some of our older folk.

Having the chance to chat, laugh and sing with the family is better than any drug.

In some cases this will be the first chance some have had to see grandchildren or great grandchildren.

Can you imagine the joy? I hope that the new rules will allow a little cuddle too.

There are better days to come folks, we just need to be sensible and keep doing all these simple things like wearing a mask, washing hands and eating well.

If we can then we’ll all enjoy the happiness and health that will come with a return to a more normal existence.

Whatever that might mean in the future.