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Chocolate

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A chocolate bar being dipped into melted chocolate.

Chocolate is one of the most beloved foods in our society. Whether it is a drink, candy, powder, or paste, chocolate is loved by many. Enjoying chocolate is not a new thing. Chocolate has been enjoyed since before the discovery of the Americas. People like the Mayans harvested cacao beans from the cacao tree and turned them into a bitter drink. [1] After many generations and experiments through history, we have chocolate as we know it today.

Types of Chocolate

Different types of chocolate.

There are many different types of chocolate. These are just two of them.

Milk Chocolate

Milk Chocolate is one of the most common types of chocolate, accounting for almost 85% of all chocolate bars consumed. [2] Milk chocolate was first invented and produced in 1866 by Daniel Peter who co-operated with Nestle. [3] Milk chocolate can now be found in the form of drinks, chocolate bars, and candies. [2]

Dark Chocolate

Dark chocolate is a healthier alternative to milk chocolate, and is made with more cocoa powder and less milk than other chocolates.[4] Some of the many health benefits of dark chocolate are improved blood flow, large amounts of minerals like iron and fiber, it is a high source of antioxidants, it can protect your skin against the sun, and it may lower the risk of cardiovascular disease.[5]

The Cacao Tree and Bean

Cacao fruit for sale at a market in Munich, Germany.

Main article: Cacao

Chocolate is made from a bean, called the cacao bean, which grows on the cacao tree (Theobroma cacao). Cacao trees are tropical evergreens found in parts of Central and South America. It has long and broad leaves and the tree itself can grow to be between 13 to 26 feet tall. The flowers are small and pink, and grow in clusters on the trunk. The cacao pods are like large orange bulbs about 6 to 12 inches long and about 3 inches wide. [6]

History of Chocolate

A Mayan lord forbids a person to touch a container of chocolate.

Chocolate has not always been a bar, but instead, it started out as a drink. Chocolate dates back to ancient South America, where it was used by the Aztecs and Mayans as a drink. Unlike a hot chocolate you might have on a cold day, the chocolate drank then was a bitter alcoholic beverage. They loved it so much, they thought it was from their gods, thus the Latin name for the Cacao Tree means "food of the gods." The first Spanish explorers tried chocolate, but thought it was "a bitter drink for pigs." When someone added sugar and honey, it became a hit, and the spanish explorers brought it back to Europe. Chocolate was a drink, mostly for the rich, until a Dutch chemist made Dutch cocoa in 1828. Dutch cocoa is chocolate without cocoa butter and salts added to make it sweeter.

A man named Joseph Fry took the Dutch cocoa and added the cocoa butter back in to it, making the first chocolate bar. After that, Cadbury, a company you may know best for their eggs, started selling chocolate in England. Nestle made the first milk chocolate bar not long after Cadbury started making chocolate. Chocolate went through many steps to become what it is today. [1]

Effects On the Body

A diagram showing the health effects of chocolate.

Chocolate has both healthy and unhealthy effects on our body. One obvious unhealthy side effect of chocolate is weight gain. A 1.55 ounce bar of milk chocolate contains on average 235 calories, 13 grams of fat, 8 grams of which are saturated fat, and 221 grams of sugar. A one ounce bar of dark chocolate contains 156 calories, 9 grams of fat, 5 grams of which are saturated, and 13 grams of sugar. Another negative side effect of chocolate that is related to weight gain is heart disease. Heart disease is very dangerous and is caused by high levels of saturated fats in foods like chocolate.[7] In 2013, Heart disease was the leading cause of death in America.[8] Other negative side effects of Chocolate include Diabetes and cavities.[7]

Chocolate can also have positive effects on our bodies. Chocolate releases serotonin into the brain. Serotonin is the chemical that causes us to be happy.[9] Along with literally making you happy, chocolate also can lower your cholesterol levels, reduce memory loss, and lower risk for strokes among other things.[10]

Video

Here is a video giving a more detailed history of chocolate.

References

  1. 1.0 1.1 Fiegl, Amanda A Brief History of Chocolate Simithsonian.com Web. Published on March 1, 2008.
  2. 2.0 2.1 Types of Chocolate Wikipedia Web. Last edit on April 26, 2016. Author Unknown.
  3. Nestle Wikipedia Web. Last edit on April 21, 2016. Author Unknown.
  4. Dark Chocolate Wikipedia. Web. Last update on March 28, 2016. Author Unknown.
  5. Gunners, Kris. 7 Proven Health Benefits of Dark Chocolate (No. 5 is Best) Authority Nutrition. Web. Accessed on April 30, 2016.
  6. Theobroma cacao Wikipedia Web. Last update on April 27 2016. Author Unknown.
  7. 7.0 7.1 Fisk, Michelle. Negative Side Effects of Chocolate Livestrong. Web. Last update on January 10, 2014.
  8. Nichols, Hannah. The Top 10 Leading Causes of Death in the US Medical News Today. Web. Last update on September 21, 2015
  9. Dyer, Kristi. Chocolate: Good for the Mind, Body & Spirit Medical Wellness Archives. Web. Accessed on April 4, 2016
  10. Nordqvist, Joseph. Chocolate: Health Benefits, Facts, Research Medical News Today. Web. Last update on February 24 2016.