Chocolate is a typically sweet, usually brown, food preparation of Theobroma Cacao seeds, roasted and ground, often flavored, with vanilla. It is made in the form of a liquid, paste, or in a block, or used as a flavoring ingredient in other foods.
Food of Gods
The origins of chocolate can be traced back to the ancient Mayan and Aztec civilizations in Central America. “Theobroma cacao”, meaning “food of the gods”, was prized for centuries by the Central American Mayan Indians, who first enjoyed a much-prized spicy drink called “chocolatl’, – “Mayan Chocolate Drink” made from roasted cocoa beans.
The Aztecs introduced cocoa to the Spaniards, who took it back to Europe in the 16th century. However it was very expensive, so only the rich could afford it. Chocolate was exclusively for drinking until the early Victorian times when a technique for making solid ‘eating’ chocolate was devised.
Chocolate really can be good for you, but not all chocolate is created equally. If you’re after health benefits, forget the chewy, caramel, marshmallow or cream-covered chocolates and look for solid dark chocolate.
The health benefits of chocolate come from flavonoids, a type of phytochemical found in the cacao bean. Dark chocolate contains a higher percentage of cocoa than white or milk chocolate. And the more cocoa a chocolate product contains, the richer its health-promoting content. Research has shown that when dark chocolate is part of a healthy lifestyle, it can improve heart health, blood pressure, reduce LDL “bad”cholesterol, and increase blood flow to the brain. It may also improveblood sugar and insulin sensitivity, reducing diabetes risk.
But limit the portion size because even though dark chocolate contains good-for-you flavonoids, it also has not-so-good-for-you fat, sugar, and calories. Overindulging in chocolate can undo any health benefits and lead to weight gain and related health problems.
Chocolate Nutrition Facts
Chocolate is a good source of Calcium and Iron. Here you may look at nutrition facts of 100 g chocolate.
Cocoa and Chocolate
The greater the percentage of cocoa, the higher the concentration of flavonoids. Most milk chocolate contains up to 50% cocoa, while some inexpensive chocolates contain as little as 7% cocoa. Look for dark chocolate with at least 70% cocoa for the finest dark chocolate rich in healthy flavonoids. Knowing following term may help you to choose correct one among unhealthy ones.
- Unsweetened baking chocolate is chocolate liquor that’s been solidified and pressed.
- Cocoa powder is cocoa butter removed from chocolate liquor and dried into cocoa powder.
- Dark chocolate is a blend of sugar, cocoa butter, chocolate liquor, and sometimes vanilla.
- Milk chocolate is made by adding milk or milk powder to the dark chocolate formula.
- White chocolate contains sugar, cocoa butter, milk or milk powder, and vanilla. It has no chocolate liquor.
- Dark chocolate (1 ounce): 142 calories, 10 grams of fat, and 6 grams of saturated fat.
- Semisweet or milk chocolate (1 ounce): 135 calories, 8.5 grams of fat, 5 grams of saturated fat.
- Unsweetened baking chocolate (1 ounce):140 calories, 14 grams of fat, 9 grams of saturated fat.
- Pure cocoa powder: (2 tablespoons): 40 calories, 1 gram of fat, 0 grams of saturated fat
Chocolate may help protect your cardiovascular system. The reason is cocoa beans are rich in a class of plant nutrients called flavonoids. Flavonoids help protect plants from environmental toxins and help repair damage. When we eat foods rich in flavonoids, it appears that we also benefit from this “antioxidant” power. Flavanols are the main type of flavonoid found in cocoa and chocolate. In addition to having antioxidant qualities, research shows that flavanols have other potential influences on vascular health, such as lowering blood pressure, improving blood flow to the brain and heart, and making blood platelets less sticky and able to clot.
Information Source : Cleveland Clinic