“Seven days without chocolate makes one weak”. This quote applies to me, don’t know about you! When the word chocolate comes to our mind, we start drooling. Imagine a world of chocolate; every stuff in it is made up of chocolate; chocolate fountain, chocolate walls, etc… This is the dream that every chocolate lover wishes to come true. However, people try to resist eating it because of its weight gaining reputation. Well, everything has got something negative associated with it. However, there are some positive aspects as well that may change your mind about chocolate.
Chocolate is a sweet edible substance that is prepared from Theobroma cacao seeds after they are fermented, dried and roasted. Since the cacao seeds have a strong bitter taste, they are fermented before converting them to chocolate so as to add the necessary flavour. It is made in the form of a block, liquid or paste and is also used as a flavouring agent in other foods.
Types of Chocolates and their preferences:
- White Chocolate – Contains sugar, milk, and other flavourings. Does not contain cocoa solids, thus is not considered chocolate by many people. Since, Theobromine is not there, it can be consumed by animals. Delivers mild and pleasant flavour. Used to make Panna Cotta, Chocolate Mousse, and other deserts.
- Milk Chocolate – Contains condensed milk, sugar along with cocoa powder. It is sweet in taste and is used to give the product a creamier taste. Females prefer milk chocolate more than males according to a survey. Also, it is the most consumed chocolate type across the world.
- Dark Chocolate – It is the second most favoured chocolate type and is further divided into 4 parts (namely – Sweet Dark Chocolate, Semi-Sweet Chocolate, Bitter Sweet & Unsweetened which contains 100% cocoa) based on the amount of cocoa content. It contains high amount of cocoa solids while having very low milk content. 46% of men of age 55+ and 48% of women o age 55+ favour dark chocolate due to its nutritional benefits because of large amount of Theobromine in it, which is an anti-oxidant. (Data taken from – http://www.mintel.com/press-centre/food-and-drink/dark-chocolate-is-creeping-up-on-the-ever-popular-milk-chocolate )
Benefits of Chocolate:
Since years, chocolate has received a lot of bad repute because of its association with acne, obesity, coronary artery disease, high blood pressure and diabetes. However, according to a review published in the Netherlands Journal of Medicine on chocolate’s health effects, “a biologically active phenolic compound is found in cocoa and the research on its effects on aging, oxidation stress, and blood pressure regulation are ongoing”. Its potential benefits may include:
- Lower Cholesterol level – A study reveals that regular consumption of chocolate bars as a low-fat diet helps in lowering cholesterol and improving blood pressure.
- Prevents memory decline – Researchers at Harvard Medical School found that hot chocolate helps in improved blood flow to the parts of the brain where it is needed, thus keeping the brain healthy and reducing memory decline.
- Lower heart disease risk
- Fewer stroke chances – Canadian scientists carried out a study and found that people who regularly consumed chocolate were 22% less likely to suffer from a stroke than the ones who didn’t. Also, according to a study published in the Journal Heart 2015, consuming up to 100 grams of chocolate each day may result in lower risk of strokes and heart disease.
However, there are a lot of benefits associated with chocolates, one must not end up eating them excessively. Large consumption of chocolates and other energy-rich foods may lead to an increase in weight due to its large fat content. So, one must have chocolate in a limited amount, since “too much of anything could destroy you”.
Finally, some fun facts related to chocolate:
- Choco Chip Cookie was an accident – When Ruth Wakefield in 1930 realised that she was out of chocolate and mixed the broken Nestle pieces into her dough hoping to make a cookie, she finally ended up making choco chip cookies and sold her idea to Nestle in return for a lifetime supply of chocolate.
- Chocolate contains insect parts – On an average, around 8 insect parts are included in a chocolate which are deemed safe by the FDA.
- Europeans are actual chocolate lovers – According to a study, an average European consumes almost 11Kg. of chocolate in his lifetime. Also, they account for almost half the world’s chocolate consumption.
- Major Producer Africa – Western Africa produces around 2/3rd of the world’s cocoa with Ivory Coast alone producing half of that.