Chocolate is made from the beans of Cocoa. From the cocoa bean pods the beans are separated after fermentation. Then the kernel of the seeds is broken in small bits which are called as nibs. These nibs are ground finely to obtain what is called cocoa liquor. This liquor when crystallized produces the dark chocolate which is the mother of virtually all other chocolates that are prepared. Sometimes by grinding the nibs fat from the resulting mass is separated which is called as cocoa butter. This along with sugar is used to make sweet chocolate.
It’s also been said that a small bar of chocolate daily can be good for your heart. That’s because of the aforementioned blood pressure benefits, and also the fact that it can help reduce LDL (bad) cholesterol as much as ten percent.
Chocolate also stimulates the production of endorphins and serotonin, contains caffeine, theobromine and other stimulants, and tastes good. Milk chocolate has much lower cocoa content and can’t offer those health benefits, and white chocolate contains no cocoa at all. Chocolate bars made of pure chocolate or chocolate with minimal flavourings are the best choice. Avoid nougat, caramel, and similar fillings, which can reduce the benefits chocolate is offering.
Eating the Right Chocolate Can Be Very Healthy
Heart shaped sugar cookies, chocolate hearts and conversation candy are everywhere, with the common denominator being SUGAR. Half of all candy sold in February is attributed to specialty candy which are the heart shaped boxes of chocolates and other Valentine’s themed packaging. Chocolate is healthy, right?
Heart disease is the number one cause of death for women and men. Shockingly, more women than men die from heart attacks. There has been a lot of positive press in recent years about the health benefits to chocolate, but the catch is to know the difference between healthy chocolate and the chocolate that is essentially just candy.
Chocolate, called by its scientific name is “theobroma cacao”. The bioflavonoid in chocolate are strong antioxidants that assist healthy blood flow and blood pressure and decreases clogging of the arteries. The health studies that determined the positive health benefits to chocolate were based on raw cocoa which was unprocessed and without any added sugars or dairy products. In order for chocolate to have positive health benefits, it must contain at least 70% cocoa solids.
Sugar laden foods are a detriment to health despite what else it accompanies. Unsweetened and dairy free dark chocolate would be the healthiest choice after raw cacao. The least healthy chocolate is milk chocolate because it contains milk fats, refined sugars and possibly hydrogenated ingredients as well which should always be avoided.
Raw cacao nibs and powder can be easily found at your local health food store and online. It is interesting to note that while chocolate candy sales are booming, there is a fast growing niche and demand for dietetic chocolate. Best of all, it can be enjoyed guilt free and offers heart healthy benefits when consumed within a healthy diet and lifestyle.
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