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The name cocoa derives from the Latin theobroma cacao which means “food of the gods”. The small seeds of the cocoa fruit were used in ancestral cultures in Latin America in sacred rituals.

The first to cultivate cocoa seeds were the Aztec priests. They believe the seed was magic, able to give people energy. Thus, they made them a strong drink that could only be consumed in golden cups. The Mayan peoples also used the seed to create a drink taken at services and wedding ceremonies.

Spanish conquerors, who came to the Americas, ended up taking the seed to Europe and from there, cocoa started a long way to become the raw material for chocolate. If before it was used to produce a bitter drink to replenish energy, it started to be processed in tablet format. It conquered the European courts and became a delicacy appreciated by the elites.

At the beginning of the 18th century, the first chocolate houses appeared. From that moment on, the production of cocoa butter and chocolate gained industrial proportions on the European continent.

Today, the manufacture of chocolate happens in several ways and the production even uses 3 million tons of cocoa beans. In recent years, a trend of consumption of “in natura” cocoa and cocoa powder has been noticed, because of the benefits for our health.

But after all, which properties of cocoa are good for our health?

Cocoa seed is rich in substances called polyphenols and flavanols, which have a powerful antioxidant activity in preventing oxidative reactions and the formation of free radicals, as well as protecting against damage to the DNA of cells.

The fact that it is an antioxidant helps our body to prevent diseases like cancer, for example. The substances in cocoa also help to fight inflammation, take care of our blood circulation arteries, defend us from the actions of microbes, in addition to providing pain relief.

In addition to cocoa seeds and chocolate itself, grapes, red wine, black tea, green tea, other fruits such as apple, strawberry, cherry, plum, peach and similar are rich in flavanols.

Chocolate: consume in moderation

Since chocolate is made up of cocoa, it ends up being rich in polyphenols and flavanols. Thus, consumption in moderation and within a balanced diet, makes the product have an antioxidant and protective action on the cardiovascular system. It is also considered a natural antidepressant as well as an energy stimulant.

Dark chocolates have a greater amount of mass than cocoa fruit, which gives the product a bitter taste. Thus, they are more likely to carry the benefits of cocoa.

Milk chocolates are no second in this ranking of benefits. Their recipe includes cocoa liquor and butter, sugar, milk, powdered milk or condensed milk.

Excessive consumption of chocolate can cause excess weight and increased blood glucose. Too much glucose (sugar) in the bloodstream can cause diabetes. Exaggeration also carries a risk of irritation to the skin, stomach and intestine.

The large amount of fat in chocolate can cause diarrhea, especially in children. Experts advise, for example, the consumption of a 300 gram easter egg in eight small parts.

Curiosity

In Europe, 58% of chocolate consumers prefer the milk type, followed by 43% who prefer the bitter type. In the United States and Brazil, there is also a greater preference for milk chocolate, but 87% of the chocolate consumed is combined with nuts, nuts, dried fruits and others.

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