Chocolates are wonderful, luxurious treats that many enjoy regularly. You may have heard that dark chocolates have several glorious health benefits, but what exactly are they? This article will introduce you to the history of chocolates, as well as the various health benefits of this amazing treat.
History Of Chocolates
The history of chocolate dates back to 2000BC. At the time, Mayans were the first to discover the cacao fruit and make chocolate out of it. They drank it as a bitter fermented beverage mixed with spices of wine. Back then, it was not merely reserved for the rich and powerful – it was readily available to regular Mayan households. Chocolate was enjoyed as a regular accompaniment to meals.
The Aztecs also revered chocolate, as they believed that cacao was given to them by the gods. They too enjoy chocolate as a beverage, having it hot or cold. In addition, they even treated cacao as currency and used it to buy food and other goods. In Aztec culture, cacao beans were considered more valuable than gold. As such, chocolate was mostly considered food for the rich and royalty.
Chocolate only arrived in the American colonies later in 1641, when a ship carrying chocolate arrived in Florida. It is thought that the first American chocolate house opened in Boston in 1682. By 1773, cocoa beans were a major American colony import and chocolate was enjoyed by people of all classes.
How Is Chocolate Made?
In present times, chocolate is enjoyed as a delicacy by many, yet few understand the time-consuming process of making it.
Firstly, cacao must be cultivated from the cacao tree (Theobroma cacao), which grows within 20° north and south of the Equator and thrives on a mix of hot temperatures, rain, and shade. The cacao pods are ripe when they turn a vibrant yellow/orange colour. Then, the pods are opened and the seeds are removed, each about the size of an olive.
Next, the beans are cleaned and allowed to ferment. Over time the pale, white flesh of the cacao turns purplish. The flavour begins to mature, giving it the signature ‘chocolate’ flavour that we know and love. After fermenting, the beans are graded, packed, and sold to chocolate makers.
At the chocolate maker’s the chocolate is cleaned and roasted. Nibs are finely ground into cocoa mass (a.k.a. cocoa liquor), which is solid at room temperature. Placed under extremely high pressure, this paste yields two products: cocoa powder and cocoa butter.
Different ratios of cocoa mass, cocoa butter, sugar, and milk powder then give rise to dark, milk, and white chocolate.
Health Benefits Of Chocolate
After learning a little more about the process of making chocolate, let’s explore some of its health benefits! If you buy a bar of dark chocolate with high cocoa content, it is actually very nutritious.
A 100-gram bar of dark chocolate with 70–85% cocoa contains (1):
- 11 grams of fiber
- 67% of the RDI for iron
- 58% of the RDI for magnesium
- 89% of the RDI for copper
- 98% of the RDI for manganese
- It also has plenty of potassium, phosphorus,
- zinc and selenium
Learn more about choosing high-quality chocolates in the link down below.
#1 Source of Antioxidants
ORAC stands for “oxygen radical absorbance capacity.” It is a measure of the antioxidant activity of foods. Dark chocolate has a high ORAC score. It is loaded with compounds such as polyphenols, flavanols, and catechins, all of which are great antioxidants. Antioxidants are crucial in assisting proper brain function and preventing cancers. Learn more about antioxidants in the link down below!
#2 Protect Your Skin From The Sun
The bioactive compounds in dark chocolate may also be great for your skin. Flavonols can protect against sun damage, improve blood flow to the skin and increase skin density and hydration.
#3 Reduce Heart Disease Risk
According to research, it is proven that compounds in dark chocolate appear to be highly protective against the oxidation of low-density lipoprotein (LDL), or what is considered as bad cholesterol. In the long term, it can help reduce cholesterol clogging arteries in the body, resulting in a lower risk of heart disease. In a study of 470 elderly men, cocoa was found to reduce the risk of death from heart disease by a whopping 50% over 15 years. Another study revealed that eating chocolate two or more times per week lowered the risk of having calcified plaque in the arteries by 32%. Eating chocolate less frequently had no effect.
Get Your Chocolate Today!
We hope you’re excited to get your hands on some chocolate! Try out some of our nut mixes that feature luxurious chocolate today.