Did you know?
Chocolate is made from the fruit of cacao trees, which are native to Southern Mexico, Central and South America. Though some reports state most of the world’s cocoa beans come from the West African countries Ghana, Nigeria, Cameroon, etc. The fruits are called pods and each pod contains around 40 cacao beans. The beans are dried and roasted to create cocoa beans. History has revealed the best recipes, methods on preparations, and there are many reports stating the real origin of where the cacao bean first appeared. Nonetheless, today many of us chocolate lovers are so happy the bean was discovered. 😊
However, did you know all the aspects of the cacao bean and its health benefits. Let’s take a look….
In 1828, Dutch chemist Coenraad Johannes van Houten invented the cocoa press, although some reports state his father invented the machine. The cocoa press separated cocoa butter from roasted cocoa beans. As a result, cocoa powder was created to mix easier with milk and teas. This left behind the cocoa butter as a new source of the cacao beans to discover.
Cocoa butter is very versatile. Not only is it a required ingredient in US-produced chocolate, but it’s also a popular ingredient in skin creams, lotions, edible lip balms, and dessert recipes. Some of the major benefits are:
- Contains a source of Vitamin E, which support vision, reproduction, health of your brain, skin, and blood.
- Keep your skin moisturized, with its high amount of natural fatty acids. The fat in cocoa butter creates a protective barrier that holds in moisture and prevents your skin from drying.
- Component to topical treatments for skin conditions such as eczema and dermatitis. The cocoa butter eases the itching allow the skin to heal after a flare up.
- Protects against sun damage and lowers your risk of skin disease.
- Provides healthier levels of cholesterol. Cocoa butter can help manage cholesterol and reduce your chances of having a heart attack. It contains stearic acid, which your liver can convert to a monounsaturated fat called oleic acid. Oleic acid lowers levels of bad (LDL) cholesterol and boosts levels of good (HDL) cholesterol.
- Reduce Liver Disease Symptoms – it contains choline which is deficient in some forms of liver disease.
- Improves Bone Health- cocoa butter contains amount of Vitamin K, which helps your body build and maintain bone strength.
- Some doctors and midwives have advised to use while pregnant to help reduce stretch marks.
Another great benefit about cocoa butter is it is mixed with all types of chocolate solids, with one the healthier form of chocolate is dark chocolate.
Dark chocolate (slightly bitter) is a form of chocolate cocoa solids and cocoa butter without added milk. In accordance with the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health:
Dark chocolate contains 50-90% cocoa solids, cocoa butter, and sugar, whereas milk chocolate contains anywhere from 10-50% cocoa solids, cocoa butter, milk in some form, and sugar.
It also contains sources of
- Power source of antioxidants- is loaded with organic compounds that are biologically active and function as antioxidants. These include polyphenols, flavanols and catechins, among others. One study showed that cocoa and dark chocolate had more antioxidant activity, polyphenols, and flavanols than any other fruits tested, which included blueberries and acai berries.
- Flavanols- Helps to protect the heart and reduce the risk of diabetes. Flavanols in chocolate increases insulin sensitivity. 70% dark chocolate or higher to obtain the most flavanols.
So, as you can see chocolate all around is good for the body. Keep in mind that the desserts, candies, and most edible uses does however contain sugar, and large amounts of consumptions is not healthy overall. Moderation is always key! Stay healthy and enjoy that nice piece of chocolate from time to time.