Five Things You Might Not Know About Chocolate
Chocolate is an amazing food full of wonder and mystery.
It's basically the worlds most complex nut butter... that's not liquid at room temperature.
It also tastes like heaven (when processed correctly).
I’ve compiled five facts that you may not have known about chocolate - at least I didn’t until recently, and I spend a majority of my time at a chocolate factory!
Fact #1 - The polyphenols in cacao may actually help improve depression and anxiety.
One study found that participants who were given high doses of polyphenols - in the form of dark chocolate drink mix - had significant improvements in “calmness and contentedness”.
Polyphenols are compounds commonly found in plant sources, many of which provide potent antioxidant benefits.
As University Health News Daily states, “Over 10 percent of the weight of cocoa powder is flavonoids, a group of polyphenolic compounds that occur widely in fruits, vegetables, tea, red wine, and chocolate. Cocoa and chocolate products have the highest concentration of flavonoids among commonly consumed foods. And dark chocolate is one of the richest sources of polyphenols.
A small portion of dark chocolate (40 grams or about 1 and 1/2 ounces) contains 400-800 mg of polyphenols.…”
Fact #2 - For a product to legally be considered “chocolate”, it only needs to contain 10% cocoa mass.
In the United States for example, a Hershey’s milk chocolate bar allegedly contains only 11% cocoa solids - yet it’s still legally marketed as “chocolate”. The rest of these low percentage chocolate products are usually made up of sugars, oils and/or milk solids.
In the UK, however, chocolate needs to contain at least 20% cocoa solids to be labeled as “chocolate”.
To me, neither of these numbers are particularly impressive - I would much rather have my chocolate be made of mostly… well… chocolate!
Fact #3 - Cacao is actually the seed of a fruit.
The seed of the cacao pod is what chocolate is made out of. The cacao pod is actually a soft, edible fruit that has a sweet, floral, mildly acidic flavor when eaten fresh.
While it’s the cacao seeds that are used to make the delicious chocolate we all know and love, the fruit of the cacao pod is also frequently consumed raw, or prepared in the form of jams, juices and both sweet and savory dishes.
Fact #4 - Humans aren’t the only creatures that consume cacao.
While the cacao tree isn’t the first choice of many rainforest critters, monkeys, rats, bats, some birds and squirrels do crack open the cacao pod to consume the cacao flesh. In return, they scatter the seeds and help the cacao tree to disperse.
Of course, humans are the number one predator for the cacao tree. The United States alone consumes around 2.8 billion pounds of chocolate each year, according to thechocolatestore.com, and we aren’t even the top consumer of cocoa in the world.
Fact #5 - While the cacao plant is not going extinct, the cacao industry will suffer from climate change.
It wasn’t long ago that an article from Business Insider claimed that by the year 2050, chocolate was going to “run out”.
While this isn’t true by any means, climate change is threatening certain areas where large amounts of cacao is grown. In addition to rising temperatures, a fungus has been threatening cacao trees for a long time. Whether good or bad, scientists are working to alter the cacao plant to be resistant to these fungi, as well as other diseases.
If any of these facts surprised you, or if you would like us to cover any other questions you might have comment below and let us know!
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