Chocolate is intensely bitter
The word "chocolate" is derived from an Aztec word that means "bitter water". Chocolate is made from the seeds of the cacao tree which have an intense bitter taste. Processing is required to develop the familiar flavor. Sugar is added, sometimes in large amounts, to produce the sweet taste that is common to most forms of chocolate eaten.
Most chocolate is produced in Africa
Although it originated in South America, 2/3 of the Chocolate production now originates in Africa. CÃ´te d'Ivoire, (or "Ivory Coast"), is the main producer. Brazil is the main South American producer but they only produce a small fraction of the world's supply of chocolate. As with coffee production, there is a new move to establish Fair Trade chocolate. This establishes a more lucrative price for the cocoa growers and producers at a somewhat higher cost to the end consumer.
Chocolate was originally consumed as a spicy and bitter drink
Although it has been prepared as a drink since ancient times, the modern preference is for a smooth and sweet chocolate drink. It is often mixed with milk and served as hot or cold chocolate milk. More chocolate is sold in solid form now. Major amounts are purchased during the celebrations for Valentine's Day, Easter and Christmas.
White chocolate is made from cocoa
It is made from a mixture of cocoa butter, milk solids and sugar. It is similar to milk and dark chocolate but it does not contain cocoa solids. Many people do not think it is chocolate at all but it is derived from the same cocoa beans as chocolate.
Cardiovascular health benefits of chocolate
Cocoa and chocolate contain a flavonoid antioxidant called epicatechin. This may have beneficial effects on the health of the cardiovascularsystem. This is mainly true for raw cocoa and dark chocolate. Dark chocolate processing preserves more of the antioxidants than milk chocolate. Panama's Kuna peoples are heavy consumers of cocoa. They have much lower rates of heart disease compared to those Kuna who do not consume as much cocoa.
Cholesterol benefits of chocolate
Studies have found small benefits in the levels of LDL cholesterol from dark chocolate. Due to the presence of milk fats, however, the beneficial quality can be lessened.
Known as bitter or baking chocolate, pure chocolate is simply roasted and ground chocolate beans. It has a strong, deep chocolate flavor. This allows flavor to be as strong as desired in prepared recipes.
Cocoa as currency
Aztecs used cocoa beans, a practice that was also instituted by the Spanish when they ruled Central and South America. Cocao beans could be used to pay taxes. The Aztecs used cocoa beans to purchase items directly. 90 good quality cocoa beans could purchase a new cloth item. Today the cocoa beans and chocolate are not directly used as currency but they are extremely important commodities for those tropical countries that produce them.
Cocoa leaves are poisonous
The leaves are poisonous. The contain a creamy, milky sap that tastes spicy and unpleasant.
Food of the gods
The scientific name for an original cocoa tree, Theobroma, means "food of the gods". This word was based on the cocoa word in the Aztec language. The Aztec people cultivated cocoa more than 3000 years ago. The chocolate produced was considered a divine ingredient in the chocolate drink that they prepared.
Chocolate is intensely bitter