All about chocolate!

Chocolate, the desirable and sinful, an indulgence that most people cannot resist but yet don’t really know much about.

Published: 04th October 2013 11:27 AM  |   Last Updated: 07th October 2013 04:36 PM   |  A+A-

Chocolate has been around for more than 2000 years and the first form it was available in was not a sweet but rather a bitter hot drink.

Here are certain terms associated with the chocolate business:

Cacao: The plant of whose beans are processed to make chocolate.

Cocoa: The powdered form of the beans used for baking or making hot chocolate.

Cocoa Butter: It is the residue left behind after the Cocoa powder is extracted from the beans. Cocoa butter has quite a few uses, including making chocolate and cosmetics. It is best known for its moisturising qualities. Almost 50-58 per cent of the cacao bean is cocoa butter.

It was only in 1847 that Joseph Fry discovered that by putting some of the cocoa butter back into ‘Dutch cocoa’ (which was a previous edible form of cocoa) he could make a moldable chocolate paste. Lo and behold, after eons of drinking chocolate, the world could now eat it.

In 1868 Cadbury’s of England was established and not long after that Nestlé came into the picture with ‘Chocolate Candies’ . There are quite a few giants in the competitive chocolate world. Other than Cadbury and Nestlé, they are:

Hershey’s: Milk Chocolate, Kisses

Mars: Twix, Mars Bars, M&Ms

Godiva: Premium Belgian Chocolate available in many flavours.

Kraft Foods: Oreos, Toblerone

Lindt: Lindor, Many flavours of chocolate bars

Ferrero: Ferrero Rocher, Nutella

Chocolates can be a reward for children or a romantic gesture and, just like the uses, it comes at varying prices, one of the most exorbitant being Chocopologie Chocolate Truffle by Fritz Knipschildt which is sold at $2,600 (`162,435) a pound (approximately 450 gm). The luxury of chocolate can be gauged by how some companies even wrap it in gold and sell it with Swarovski crystals studded on it. It becomes almost like jewellery.

Yes, chocolate is yummy to eat, and if all the sugar is taken out of account chocolate is actually an extremely healthy form of food.

Cardiovascular Benefits: Studies have shown chocolate can help regulate blood pressure. In a nine-year Swedish study of more than 31,000 women, those who ate one or two servings of dark chocolate each week cut their risk of heart failure by as much as a third.

Weight loss: Dark chocolate is generally more filling than milk chocolate and contains less sugar. A little bit of dark chocolate satiates your craving for sweet, salty or fatty foods. Also the anti-oxidants in chocolate assist in weight loss by increasing the potency of exercise.

Reduces Stress: Many people, when stressed or sad, crave sweets. Swiss Scientists have concluded that an ounce-and-a-half of dark chocolate every day for two weeks significantly reduces stress levels.

Sun Protection: Chocolates with a high level of flavonoids not only reduce breakouts but also helps protect against the sun’s UV damage to the skin. People who eat chocolate take three times more time to get burnt than people who go without eating chocolates. This doesn’t mean that eating a Mars bar before going to the beach will protect you! Please don’t skip applying sunscreen.

Helps reduce chronic cough: The chemical theobromine present in chocolates reduces the activity of the vagus nerve, the nerve in the brain responsible for coughs. This thus soothes hard-to-cure coughs. Scientists are also experimenting with using theobromine instead of codeine in cough syrups.

Improves Vision: Chocolate has blood-thinning properties that improve the circulation and flow of the blood. This can cause a few things: first, improved circulation, which in turn causes the flow to the retina get better, thus helping vision. It also means that the flow to the brain increases which makes the chocolate connoisseur smarter and more alert.

Be it for health reasons or just to satisfy your sweet tooth, a chocolate bar a day can keep the doctor away (also because chocolate has three times the amount of flavonoids apples have). Yes it is sinful and delectable, but if eaten in the right form, chocolate can be the miracle food of the gods.

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