The earliest evidence of chocolate is traced back to early Mexico and Guatemala. As early as 1900 B.C. with the Aztec and Maya peoples, who often made beverages from the substance. The substance is made from the seeds of the Cacao tree, which in their raw state are very bitter, and must be fermented in order to bring out the sweet taste.
Once the beans are fermented, they are dried and cleaned and then roasted. The shell of the seed is then removed and the mass that remains is ground to what is called cocoa mass, which is then liquefied and then processed into cocoa solids and cocoa butter. Most of the final product that is produced today is made up of cocoa solids and cocoa butter in varying combinations with sugar and milk added to proportion.
The cocoa solids are one of the world’s richest sources of antioxidants of the flavanol variety, and is helpful in helping to build the immune system and reduce blood pressure. The use of chocolate has made it one of the most popular types of food and flavoring all over the world.
Even though cocoa originated in South America, today Western Africa is the producer of nearly two-thirds of the cocoa in the world. Early Europeans such as Columbus and Cortez were among the first of their kind to taste it, and as it was brought back to Europe, it became fashionable as a drink for the royalty and wealthy of the day.
Today, the substance is known and well accepted all over the world, as it is used as a drink, and make into all kinds of candies, pies and cakes, and taken as a drink as well.
There are positive effects that are derived from the consumption of the substance which include:
– The circulatory system may be positively affected by its consumption.
– Eating the substance may help reduce the risk of various cardiovascular diseases. It can also assist with the reduction of blood pressure.
– Eating the substance will help brain activity and memory, as well as the ability to function at higher levels.
– Cholesterol levels can be lowered by its consumption.
– One study showed that a moderate consumption of the substance showed lowered body mass index results.
– Large concentrations of flavonoids are contained in the substance, which helps build the immune system and ward off disease.
– Eating too much of the substance can cause heartburn, cause one to put on weight, and cause acid reflux.
– Too much consumption can be a factor in causing kidney stones due to the large concentration of oxalate.
There is no doubt about the general public acceptance of the product, as it is now a $50 billion per year business on a world-wide scale. About 45% of that volume comes from the European nations.
The substance is often associated with holidays and festive events, and since it can be easily molded into different shapes, it is a popular substance for all kinds of interesting figures that are made to celebrate the holiday or event.