Chocolate 101 – What You Need to Know

Who doesn't love chocolate? Do those people exist? In our experience, everyone in the world enjoys a good piece of chocolate (or two, or three...). We eat what we love, and sometimes we know very little about what we're actually consuming. Did you know that chocolate actually isn't bad for you when consumed in appropriate amounts? Learn a little about it, it might help ease your conscious the next time you're shoveling it in.

cacao seed

What is It?

Chocolate is a product of cacao seeds that originated in South and Central America. It's made when the seeds are fermented, roasted, ground and sometimes flavored; from there it can maintain a liquid form, or be made into a paste or a block. Chocolate in its original form is a tad bitter, and doesn't really become very sweet until we add cocoa butter, fat or sugar. When chocolate is sweetened in this way, milk chocolate is formed. White chocolate is simply milk chocolate without the cocoa solids.

Health Benefits

Cocoa solids (without the sweeteners) are one of the best sources of flavanol antioxidants to date. In addition, they contain alkaloids that have positive physiological effects on the body due to a link to serotonin levels in the brain. Studies show that chocolate, when eaten in moderation, can lower blood pressure and is thought to possess properties that are beneficial for cardiac health and wellness. As a general rule of thumb, the more bitter the chocolate, the more likely it is to have a positive affect. Most candied chocolate that we purchase from the grocery store has very little, if any positive affect. If you're interested in consuming a little chocolate on a daily basis as a small treat and as a health benefit, only buy chocolate that is rich in cacao. How can you tell? The packaging will indicate a cacao percentage, and your chocolate should read at over 75% cacao to be beneficial for your health.

It's no wonder that chocolate is actually a $50 billion a year industry; it's one of the tastiest food and flavor items in the world. And doesn't it make you happy to know that if you consume it appropriately it can be great for your health? That's just the chocolate icing on the chocolate cake.

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