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Chocolate- The modern marvel. Benefits, Variety & History of Chocolates

BY: rutushree | Category: Food and Drinks | Post Date: 2009-11-26

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Chocolate is loved by all age groups. The name CHOCOLATE itself arouses a flavour in our tastebuds! It is a rich delicious product obtained from the cacao tree. It is used in solid, liquid and powdered forms. The unique flavour of chocolate makes it unforgettable.

It is believed that the word "chocolate" comes from Nahutal, the language of the Aztecs. The word "chocolatl", is derived from the Nahuatl word "xocolatl" which is made up from the words "xococ" meaning sour or bitter, and "atl" meaning water or drink. Chocolate is made from the bean of the Cacao tree. Its scientific name is Theobroma Cacao, which means "food of the gods",and indeed it is!

The Cacao tree grows near the Equator. We find Cacao trees in South America, Mexico, Africa, the Carribbean Islands, and Central America. Then how it is available all over the world? Cocoa beans were originally ground and hot chocolate was made by placing it in water. It has been said that Hernando Cortes, a Spanish general, was given this hot chocolate by the Aztecs while he was in Mexico in 1519. Cortes, brought some of the cocoa beans back to Spain with him where it was sweetened up with a little sugar and vanilla. Then it became very popular in Europe.However, The earliest record of using chocolate dates back before the Olmec. Recently, in November 2007, archaeologists reported finding evidence of the oldest known cultivation and use of cacao at a site in Puerto Escondido, Honduras,dating from about 1100 to 1400 BC. The residues found and the kind of vessel they were found in indicate that the initial use of cacao was not simply as a beverage, but the white pulp around the cacao beans was likely used as a source of fermentable sugars for an alcoholic drink.

Chocolates are available in different varieties. Different forms and flavours of chocolate are produced by varying the quantities of the different ingredients. Other flavours can be obtained by varying the time and temperature when roasting the beans. H Higher the percentage of cocoa higher the quality and richer and deeper in chocolaty flavour. The FDA defines what can be labeled unsweetened, bittersweet, semisweet, sweet, milk, and white chocolate, but the rest, well, the rest is up to the manufacturer.The most common varieties of chocolates are:

Unsweetened Chocolate
This is cooled and hardened chocolate liquor. It has a bitter taste and is not meant for consumption on its own ,it is best used in cooking and baking processes.
Dark chocolate
It contains chocolate liquor, sugar, cocoa butter, vanilla and leicithin (an emulsifier).There are no milk solids added in dark chocolate.
Bittersweet chocolate
Contains at least 35% chocolate liquor, plus cocoa butter and sugar in varying amounts. This chocolate often has a deeper, more bitter flavor than sweet dark or semi-sweet bars.
Bitter chocolate
Bitter chocolate is also referred to as unsweetened chocolate or plain chocolate. Bitter chocolate contains absolutely no sugar and is very strong.Great for use in baking and cooking.
Sweet Chocolate
Contains at least 15% chocolate liquor, plus cocoa butter and sugar in varying amounts.
Semi-sweet chocolate
It is the most commonly used dark chocolate variety in baking. It has a nice amount of added sugar without being overly sweet. Dark chocolate can be substituted for most chocolates in recipes.
Sweet dark chocolate:
It is -dark chocolate- in the sense that it does not contain milk solids, but it still has a high percentage of sugar and is much sweeter than other types of dark chocolate.
Milk chocolate
Contains at least 10% chocolate liquor, plus cocoa butter and sugar in varying amounts, and at least 12% milk (milk, cream, milk powder, etc).This is the most popular chocolate.
White chocolate
White chocolate gets its name from the cocoa butter it contains, but does not contain chocolate liquor or any other cocoa products. As a result, it has no pronounced chocolate taste, but commonly tastes like vanilla or other added flavorings.
Gianduja chocolate
It's the name given to a European style of chocolate made from chocolate and nut paste(mostly,hazelnut paste or almond paste).At room temperature it is soft enough to be rolled or cut, but is too soft to use for molding chocolates.

Primarily it should be selected on the basis of quality.Chocolate with high quantity of coco butter and coco solids cost higher.This doesn't mean that you should buy the costlier one,but should be careful about the inferior qualities.If the chocolate has a cloudy surface, scarred or gray then the quality is low or it's an old chocolate.

Rub your finger over the surface of chocolates to warm it and then smell it.If it doesn't smell like chocolate,then it won't taste very much as a chocolate!

Before eating a chocolate do look for its glossy appearance and check that it is free from any blemishes.

Finally when tasting the chocolate, if it feels smooth,velvety and mouthful then its worth a chocolate to be in your mouth!

There are many, many different brands of chocolate and chocolate manufacturers to choose from.: Belcolade, Blommer, Cacao Barry, Callebaut, Carma, El Rey, Felchin, Ghiradelli, Guittard, Lindt, Scharffen Berger, Valrhona, Van Leer, and Wilbur.

Earlier chocolates were believed as -junk foods- as it used to increase our body weight and too much eating of it causes tooth decay.It also increased our blood sugar.The recent studies, by the researchers not only eradicates the age old myth but also confers the healthy qualities of it.

Chocolate has 300 chemicals in it which has attracted to study its properties.As it is a plant product, it has health benefits of dark vegetables.It contains flavonoids, theobromine, serotonin to name a few.Hence the health benefits that has been found by the researchers are listed below:

Chocolates have flavonoids,which act as antioxidants,that protect the body from aging caused by free radicals,which can cause damage that lead to heart disease.
Flavonoids are also present in apples,onions,wine,craneberries and peanuts.it has been seen that 50mg of dark chocolate is equivalent to 6 apples and two glasses of wine!
So,chocolates can be eaten for a healthy heart.

.Eating dark chocolates can reduce the LDLcholesterol level by 10% because of the presence of oleic acid, a mono- unsaturated fat.

It can reduce the high blood pressure,in an individual as it has a compound that processes nitric oxide.It thus helps in the free flow of blood and also to have a normal blood pressure.

The flavonoids in chocolates has anti clotting effect as they do not allow fatty substances in the bloodstream to oxidize the arteries.Thus it reduces the risk of deep vein thrombosis when flying.

They have anti -depressant properties.They contain tryptophan ,consumption of which releases serotonin,a feel good neurotransmitter,which stimulates the central nervous system and makes us feel good. When you are depressed, now you know what to have, eat a chocolate.Simple!!

Chocolates also stimulate the production of endorphins, which can induce feeling of pleasure. Scientists have found that the endorphins and opoids in chocolates makes people feel less anxious and worried and makes them relaxed.

Phenyl ethylamine(a docile mood elevator) present in the chocolate develops feeling of attraction and excitement level which acts on the brain's pleasure center.Well.here lies the reason for the lovestruck people to exchange chocolates.

Consuming a cup of chocolate before meal reduces appetite ,helping to remain fit.So, don't worry to munch a bar now in the fear of gaining weight.(no obesity risk).

The pleasant aroma of chocolate also has health benefits.Just by sniffing a choco bar can boost up the immune system by raising the level of antibodies in body.So its advised to have 15 -20 gms of dark chocolate in the daily diet.

Cacao, the main ingredient of chocolate, has antibacterial agents that combat tooth decay.

Another important healthy substance is theobromine.It cures cough without any side effect of drowsiness.

Well,after reading out all these points..you might be having a great desire to munch a brown bar.So what you are waiting for?Go ahead and grab a healthy piece now!You can have one when you really feel like having one and taste the delicious chocolate and forget all the worries.No wonder why it s a modern marvel!

Article Source: http://www.saching.com

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Comments on this article: (3 comments so far)

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Comment Comment By Comment Date
Nice!! Usually people say Chocolates are too bad for the health; but you have discussed the other side of the coin! Overall information presented in this article shows your efforts behind writing this article. Keep up the good work and looking forward for more articles from you!
Rutu 2009-11-27
chocolate gal now sounds like a grown up lady. dats sweet buddy. keep doin.
shes 2009-11-27
One chocolate...
reading this article will even raises desire of eating a chocolate by those who dont even like them.. reading this article is just like having a munch of the finest chocolate
vasu 2009-11-27

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