Well my friends, it is time for another SuperFoodz Friday here at HealthFreax. Today I have a food that you guys are really going to enjoy: Chocolate
That’s right. I said it. Chocolate. The world’s love for this decadent treat may just be one of the biggest obsessions of all time. Chocoholics have found pleasure and comfort knowing that the sources of it are plentiful and it can be found in just about any shape or form imaginable. But it has also been thought to be a extreme lack of nutrients and has been rumored to cause quite a bit of obesity. Well lets just see if we can clear this up now, shall we?
Chocolate is originally grown from a fruit known as a “Cacao” bean. This large pod is picked by hand so that the fruit is not damaged. The biggest source is Hawaii where millions of cacao pods are harvested each year. Glad I don’t have that job!
Anyway, the cacao pods are opened, and the pulpy insides are put into a wooden box where it is sweated over several days. The box ferments the beans and makes all of the gross stuff fall to the bottom, while the raw beans remain on top. Once this is done, the beans are set in the Hawaiian sun to dry where they roast and are then shipped to numerous buyers.
With raw beans, the possibilities are endless. Some will crush them so finely that all of the oils and fats (cocoa butter) are pushed out and all you are left with is a fine powder. The powder is what we know as baking chocolate and is very common in most grocery stores. Once the chocolate is mixed with liquids (usually milk) and sugars, it becomes the chocolate we love to eat!
The percentages we see on the packages of chocolate are the level of how much chocolate solids are in the bar. If it is 70 % dark chocolate, then it has 70% chocolate solids in it and 30% other items like liquids and sugars.
Now remember the oils and cocoa butter that was pushed out of the chocolate when it was made into a powder? That cocoa butter is mixed with milks and sugars of its own to make white chocolate. People argue all day about whether white chocolate is actually chocolate. To me, it is just cocoa fats but it is all about opinion I suppose. But whether chocolate or not, it just doesn’t have the health benefits associated with chocolate.
Back to the dark stuff. The darker your chocolate is, the more benefits you can get out of it due to the fact that darker chocolate is more natural and has more cocoa solids in it. Naturally, chocolate has numerous antioxidants, the biggest one being something called “Flavanoids”. This antioxidant found in the non-fatty part of chocolate is used to help keep the blood flowing, therefore reducing clots.
Another great thing in chocolate is called “Theobromine”. Try saying that ten times fast. Though it is mild, it is stimulant that helps keep your blood pumping and give you a tad bit more energy. This chemical is the reason dogs cannot have it. It can cause their hearts to over pump and fail. But in we chocolate-loving humans, it actually is a good thing. The chocolates “anti-depressant” quality of serotonin doesn’t hurt either. And with vitamins A, B1, B2, B3, C, & E, no wonder we love this stuff so much.
But beware. Too much of the stuff, and it can far outweigh the benefits of it. But the darker you eat it, the better it is for you. Some people prefer the creaminess of milk chocolate, but being a vegan myself and loving those earthy flavors, I am more of a 88% fan. Its all about how your taste buds are trained I guess.
So now we know where it comes from and what it can do for us. If you guys kept reading through all the boring stuff, you were probably waiting to figure out how we can eat it! There are so many ways to choose, that the possibilities are endless. I have seen anything from eating a small bar of it to dipping a caramel-coated apple in it! So as I have run out of it in my pantry, I am unable to create a recipe for you guys and know that it taste good! But I will be stocking up soon and will hopefully come up with something by next week. Keep checking in to see what it is!
Chocolate Health Freax Unite!
-Andrew “VegMuffinMan” Morrison-