Our Ancestors Were Enjoying Cocoa Over 5,000 Years Ago

Maria Cohut wrote . . . . . . . . .

According to recent evidence, our ancestors might have started domesticating cacao trees, the beans of which we ground into cocoa, as many as 1,500 years earlier than we had previously thought.

It’s safe to say that most of us enjoy chocolate in at least one of its many forms.

This treat is made from cacao (or cocoa) beans, the seeds of Theobroma cacao, or the cacao tree.

Chocolate, however, isn’t just a guilty pleasure. In fact, many studies indicate that in its purest form, it can actually benefit our health.

As we have reported on Medical News Today, dark chocolate can enhance our brain health, help us see better, and protect our hearts.

Ancient Mesoamerican peoples — such as the Olmecs, the Maya, and the Aztecs — who lived as early as 3,900 years ago, reportedly used cacao beans to brew sacred drinks and sometimes trade as currency.

So, for a long time, researchers believed that we first domesticated Theobroma cacao trees about that time in Central American regions.

However, a new study — the findings of which appear in the journal Nature Ecology & Evolution — presents evidence that we found and cultivated the cacao tree much earlier, and in a different region of the Americas.

Cocoa used much earlier than we thought

The researchers who conducted this new study — hailing from the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, Canada, as well as many other academic institutions — analyzed the genomes of numerous cacao trees looking for markers of diversification that would suggest early domestication.

This analysis led them to believe that the domestication of Theobroma cacao may actually have originated in equatorial South America, rather than in Central America. Moreover, this likely happened over 1,000 years earlier than experts had thought.

“This new study shows us that people in the upper reaches of the Amazon basin, extending up into the foothills of the Andes in southeastern Ecuador, were harvesting and consuming cacao that appears to be a close relative of the type of cacao later used in Mexico — and they were doing this 1,500 years earlier.”

– Study co-author Prof. Michael Blake, University of British Columbia

The authors explain that traces of cacao on ancient pottery from South American regions provided them with further clues about when these ancient civilizations might have started cultivating the plant, and how it later found its way to Central America.

“They were also doing so,” explains Prof. Blake, “using elaborate pottery that predates the pottery found in Central America and Mexico.”

Source: Medical News Today


Black Truffle and Mushroom Country Bread


100 g assorted mushrooms
25 g black truffle paste


250 g French bread flour
3.75 g fresh yeast
125 g water
7.5 g sea salt
125 g poolish


1.8 g fresh yeast
180 g water
180 g French bread flour


  1. To make the poolish, put all ingredients into a mixing bowl. Whisk until all flour is blended in and the batter turns sticky. Leave it for 12 hours at room temperature.
  2. Stir-fry mushrooms in a little olive oil until fragrant and done. Mix in black truffle paste. Remove and set aside.
  3. Put all dough ingredients into a mixer. Mix for about 10 minutes until elastic. Turn to low speed to mix in the mushroom mixture.
  4. Sieve bread flour to cover the bottom of a plastic square container. Put the dough in. Leave it at room temperature for 1 hour until it doubles in size.
  5. Divide the dough into two equal portions. Shape them into balls and set aside for 20 minutes to rest.
  6. Press the trapped air out from the dough. Round them. Place each dough into a floured bread basket with the seam facing up. Cover with cling wrap and leave them to proof for 45 minutes.
  7. Line a baking tray with silicone baking mat. Sprinkle with cornmeal. Tip the proofed dough out of the baskets onto the baking mat. Make light incisions on the crust.
  8. Bake in a preheated oven at 200°C for 18 to 20 minutes until golden.

Makes 2 round loaves.

Source: Devoted to Bread-making

In Pictures: Sandwiches

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Quail Egg Sandwiches

Tuna and Pickle Sandwiches

Tuna and Coleslaw Sandwiches

Avocado, Potato Salad, Ham and Cheese Sandwiches

Hot ans Spicy Beef Sandwiches

Video: A Brief History of Cheese

Before empires and royalty, before pottery and writing, before metal tools and weapons – there was cheese.

As early as 8000 BCE, Neolithic farmers began a legacy of cheesemaking almost as old as civilization.

Today, the world produces roughly 22 billion kilograms of cheese a year, shipped and consumed around the globe.

Paul Kindstedt shares the history of one of our oldest and most beloved foods.

Watch video at You Tube (5:33 minutes) . . . . .

Catheter Ablation Superior to Standard Drug Therapy for Atrial Fibrillation

A meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials found that catheter ablation was superior to conventional drug therapy alone for patients with atrial fibrillation and heart failure. Findings are published in Annals of Internal Medicine.

Atrial fibrillation is associated with thromboembolic stroke, systemic embolism, and decompensated heart failure. Catheter ablation is an established therapeutic strategy for atrial fibrillation, but guidelines recommend caution in certain patients. The benefits and harms of catheter ablation versus drug therapy for patients with atrial fibrillation have not been firmly established.

Researchers from Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai reviewed six published randomized controlled trials to compare the benefits and harms between catheter ablation and standard drug therapy (rate or rhythm control medications) in adult patients with atrial fibrillation and heart failure. Their analysis showed that compared to medication, catheter ablation was associated with reductions in all-cause mortality and heart failure hospitalizations and improvements in left ventricular ejection fraction; quality of life; cardiopulmonary exercise capacity; and 6-minute walk test distance, with no statistically significant increase in serious adverse events.

The major adverse events rates observed in the pooled analysis were 7.2 percent in the ablation group and 3.8 percent in the standard therapy group. Despite the complications associated with catheter ablation, the authors explain that the long-term benefits in all-cause mortality, heart failure hospitalizations, and overall clinical outcomes must be weighed in clinical decision making.

Source: EurekAlert!

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