Some Important Chocolaty Historical Facts!
Chocolate’s old! History dates its roots back to somewhere 450 BC era. It was the time of the Olmec civilization and the area was around Central America and Southern Mexico. Theobroma cacao trees were found in plentiful in these places due to perfect temperature and plenty rains. Olmec women probably harvested the colourful gourds of the cocoa trees. The gourds were full of beans. The Olmec women mashed these beans mixed with water and starch and then dispensed among the more elevated classes of their people. They served the mixture as a “thick, bitter-tasting drink, stimulating, nourishing and - they believed – in healing as well.” They called the cocoa beans as kakawa or cacao.
The Olmec passed their cocoa traditions to the Maya who passed them to the Aztecs who passed them to the conquistadors of the fifteenth century. In the sixteenth century, during the time of Aztec Emperor, Montezuma, cocoa beans were used as currency to buy for basic necessities of life. The beans were harvested by the poor and were traded off with the wealthy people for little luxuries of life. Chocolate held great importance back then and nothing much has changed. However it is much more convenient to procure chocolate now. The deep rooted history of cocoa bean and chocolate helps us to respect it even more! It has travelled a long way to be what it is!
Variety of Chocolates
Chocolate is a typically sweet, usually brown food preparation of Theobroma cacao seeds, roasted and ground. Cocoa beans, cocoa butter, sugar, milk solids in various proportions are used to make different kinds of chocolates. Chocolate is made in the form of a liquid, paste, or in a block, or used as a flavouring ingredient in other foods. Different types of chocolates have different proportions of cocoa beans added to them. Let’s take a quick look:
1. Cocoa Powder- It is a type of non-sweetening powder which is pulverized and partially defatted chocolate liquor.
2. Unsweetened Chocolate- This form of chocolate is known as “bitter” or “baking” chocolate. It is a type of pure chocolate liquor which consists of ground cocoa beans.
3. Dark Chocolate- It is a type of chocolate that contains chocolate liquor, sugar, cocoa butter, vanilla and lecithin which is an emulsifier. Dark chocolate contains around 70% cocoa beans and does not contain any milk solids.
4. Milk Chocolate- The ingredients of milk chocolates are cocoa butter, chocolate liquor, condensed milk (for European varieties) or dry milk solids.
5. White Chocolate- Its name is derived from the presence of cocoa butter but does not contain chocolate liquor or any other type of cocoa products.
6. Couverture Chocolate- It is primarily used by professional bakers or confectioners due to the presence of high amount of cocoa butter typically around 30%.
Dark Chocolate (70% Cocoa) Provides Maximum Health Benefits!!
Out of all the varieties of Chocolates, Dark chocolate is known for some amazing health benefits. The reason being they are low in sugar content. And no presence of milk solids make them rich in providing health benefits. Let’s take a look at Dark Chocolates Health Benefits:
1. Due to reduced sugar content and milk solids, Dark chocolate helps in weight loss.
2. It cuts your cravings. A little sweet treat on occasion can help keep those cravings in check and allow you to follow your weight-loss or weight-maintenance regimen.
3. Thanks to certain flavanols that exist in chocolate, the sweet treat has been found to help lower blood sugar and also decrease body fat. 4. Chocolate actually contains a decent amount of fiber, which helps keep your appetite in check and increase feelings of satiety.
5. It’s not your imagination: Eating small amounts of chocolate every day can help you relax.
6. It also helps in attaining healthy skin by reducing stress. Also Dark chocolates prevent your skin from drying out.
7. Dark chocolates are also useful in lowering bad cholesterol.
8. When consumed in moderation over time, it controls and reduces sugar cravings.
Understanding nutrition facts about cocoa and chocolate is beneficial to regulate your chocolate intake. If you are really looking for weight loss avoid milk chocolates and go for dark chocolates as desserts.
Dark Chocolates & Diabetes- Relative effect or none
It is a common notion that diabetic people are not supposed to eat sweets, desserts and chocolates! Consuming everything in moderation is the need of the hour. And Dark chocolates would prove more beneficial than milk chocolates for diabetic people as they are low in sugar levels. However care should be taken in regulating the quantities of it. Don’t eat a lot in one go as it will effect your blood sugar levels. And don’t buy ‘diabetic chocolate’ as it will contain artificial sweetener fructose or sorbitol which in turn will be more harmful than the normal chocolate.