Orgin of the Cocoa Bean
Cocoa has a long history of production across the world. It was first cultivated in South America and soon traveled to Europe by Spanish Conquistadors from South America. The World Cocoa Foundation included in their website that Cocoa dates back to South American countries over a few thousand years ago. Cocoa was the first crop harvested by Aztecs and Mayan tribes and being the most well-known plant to grow in indigenous countries.
In the 1850s, the rise of industrailization, cocoa was turned into powder by steam-powered machines to allow mass production of the "cocoa powder" which is what we use today. According to WebMD, over 4.5 million tons of cocoa are consumed around the world every year.
Chocolate is a modern word that stems from two words in Nahuatl, which is the native language spoken by the indigenous group who cultivated the cocoa plant. Chocolatl, which translate to "hot water,"and cacahuatl that refers to a bitter beverage made with cocoa that was shared during reilgious ceremonies.
it became a staple in modern culture. When it first began to reach other countries such as France and England, cocoa was considered an ingredient specifically eaten by the elite class due its scarcity and high price, but after the creation of steam-powered machines in the 1850s, cocoa powder is a much more affordable indegrident to use in the kitchen. Thanks to inventors as Joesph Fry in 1850 who created the idea of adding cacao butter to cocoa powder to form a solid mass, and Jean Neuhaus II, a Belgian inventor, in 1910, who added the cocoa solid mass or "powder" to many desserts and dishes that'd exploded the chocolate industry popularity and used in many dishes we eat today!
How does the Cocoa Bean turn into Delicious Chocolate?
Cocoa powder is a key ingredient in any chocolate treat! With over 4.5 million cocoa beans consumed globally a year, it is one of the world's most favorite plant to consume.
Cocoa beans are a plant called Theobroma Cacao. To turn the cocoa bean plant into powder, it involves a process of fermenting, drying, roasting and grinding the beans. It can take up to eight days for the beans to into a powdery substance, and once it has reached that stage, the addition of sugar, milk, and other sweetners develops into what we like to add to our cakes, frostings, and beverages to achieve the sweetness.
Healthy Benefits of Cocoa:
Cocoa Powder Health Benefits
One huge benefit to consuming cocoa is that the bean is rich in polyphenols which are naturally occuring antioxidants found in foods like fruits, veggies, teas, wines and, of course, chocolates.
Reduce High Blood Pressure!Cocoa powder and dark chocolate are key elements to reducing high blood pressure! Back in the orgin of South Americans consuming the cocoa, it was established that they had much lower blood pressure than those who did not consume chocolate. The flavaols in cocoa are considered to imporve nitric acid oxide levels in the blood and enhances the function of your blood vessels and reduces blood pressure!
Reduces Chances of Heart Attacks and Strokes!Since the flavaol-rich cocoa improves the level of nitric oxide in your blood vessels, this helps relax your arteries and improves blood flow to your heart. So a few dark chocolate bars in your diet doesn't add anything but good health to your blood stream! According to a review study of over 150,000 people, it has found that consuming chocolate at small rates has helped lower the risk of heart disease, stroke and death.
Improves Brain Function!The polyphenols in cocoa has been proven to reduce your risk of neurodegenerative diseases and improve the function of your brain. Those who have consumed high-flavanol cocoa in a two week study, their blood flow to the brain increased by 8% in one week and 10% after two weeks.
Improve Mood and Symptoms of Depression!The positive effects of consuming chocolate due to cocoa flavanols is that it helps better your mood! As the movies have shown when a character faces a break up, or gifting chocolate for a special occassion, it is a known stabilizer for your mood and enchance serotonin in your brain. The caffeine content brings pleasure of eating chocolate and helps bring more serotonin and decrease symptoms of depression.
Helps with Weight Control!Although it's contradictary that consuming sweet dark chocolate helps reduce weight, it is filled with antioxidants that help lower appetite and inflammation. A chocolate bar every so often may help control your appetite and lower your BMI. According to this study it has proven that one group who were given 42 grams or about 1.5 ounces of 81% cocoa chocolate per day lost weight faster than the other diet group.
Improves Breathing and Treatment for Asthma!
Therobromine and theophylline are compounds to help reduce asthma symptoms! These are key elements in cocoa that may help with persistent coughing, helps dilate lungs and relax your airways.
How can I add cocoa to my diet?Fun and delicious ways to add chocolate to your diet for overall better health can be added to these type of foods: Dark chocolate, Hot/Cold Cocoa, Smoothies, Puddings, Granola Bars, Chocolate Cakes and pairs well with all types of fruits.
However, you may be saying "Well, I can eat a chocolate bar a day and I'll be healthier!" That's not entirely true. It is proven that dark chocolate and cocoa powder holds the most benefical elements for our health, and many high sugar milk chocolate bars are filled with ingredients that can alter and overpower the benefits of consuming chocolate.
The take away for adding chocolate to your diet is to do it in moderation and use more dark chocolate or actual cocoa to maximize the health benefits!
World Cocoa Foundation: https://www.worldcocoafoundation.org/blog/history-of-cocoa/#:~:text=Cocoa%20was%20first%20developed%20as,dating%20back%20several%20thousand%20years.
Health Benefits: https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/cocoa-powder-nutrition-benefits#TOC_TITLE_HDR_4"