Today while I was reading I came across a very interesting fact that I wanted to share with you: every ten years or so, a typical adult eats their own by weight in chocolate. Fascinating right? For those who finding I hard to believe I swear that this is absolutely true. The typical chocolate consumption ranges from about 5kg a year in the United States to 9.5kg a year in Switzerland. But the real question is what makes us eat chocolate so much? And more importantly what is chocolate?
Chocolate is one of the most popular sweet of all time! It is a food derived from the beans of the tropical cacao tree. The majority of it is grown in western Africa where high temperatures and rainfall provide the perfect growing conditions. The chocolate we eat is produced from cacao beans and is a result of a multi-stage process. The journey from cocoa tree to chocolate bar is not complex but it requires several steps. Each of the steps need careful treatment to obtained the desired finished product. After the fermentation, the beans are dried, cleaned and roasted. The shell is removed to produce cacao nibs, which are then ground to cocoa mass, pure chocolate in rough form. Since the cocoa mass is normally liquefied before being molded with or without other ingredients, it is called chocolate liquor.
According to a study by psychologist David Lewis there are several reasons why we love chocolate. We love it because it tastes good and melts in our mouth. All of these feeling are the result of our brain release chemicals in response to each chocolate experience. The experience of eating chocolate results in feel good neurotransmitters being released in particular brain regions. Allowing the chocolate melt slowly in your mouth increases the brain activity and the heart rate.
There are studies that back up some of the physical effects you can experience while eating certain kinds of chocolate. The stimulation your body experience provides a pleasant feeling to the taste buds which always make you come back for more. Chocolate is known to be a mood elevator which decreases your stress levels. This is the reason why people always indulge in sweets when they get angry or upset. When your stress levels get lower, you become more relaxed which is very beneficial to your health.
Another benefit is that chocolate raises the level of antioxidants level in the blood which help to fight any foreign bodies that can cause illness. With healthier levels, you are much less likely to come down with viruses or other things that could affect you at different times of the year.
Many people may not be aware of it but there are actually numerous health benefits of chocolate. The real form of chocolate coming from the cocoa tree is a great super food that can keep us healthy. The cocoa is packed full of plant derived flacanols, full of antioxidants, anti- inflammatory constituents and health- boosting ingredients that does a lot of good things to our body and mind. Cocoa can be enjoyed in its raw form as a powder, as cocoa nibs or dark chocolate bar without the refined sugar and unhealthy fats.
So the next time you are enjoying your favourite candy bar don’t feel guilty- it’s healthy!