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Chocolate

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Chocolate comprises a number of raw and processed foods that are produced from the seed of the tropical Cocoa Tree.

Cultivation of Chocolate

Native to lowland tropical South America, cacao has been cultivated for three thousand years in Central America and Mexico, with its earliest documented use around 1100 BC. All of the Mesoamerican peoples made chocolate beverages, including the Maya and Aztecs, who made it into a beverage known as xocolātl, a Nahuatl word meaning "bitter water". The seeds of the cacao tree have an intense bitter taste, and must be fermented to develop the flavor. After being roasted and ground, the resulting products are known as chocolate or cocoa.

Consumerism

Most of the chocolate consumed today is made into bars that combine cocoa solids, fats like cocoa butter, and sugar. Chocolate has become one of the most popular flavors in the world. Gifts of foil-wrapped chocolate molded into different shapes have become traditional on certain holidays: chocolate bunnies and eggs are popular on Easter, coins on Hanukkah, Santa Claus and other holiday symbols on Christmas, and hearts on Valentine's Day. Chocolate is also used in cold and hot beverages, to produce Chocolate Milk and cocoa.

Varieties

Cocoa Liquor is blended with the Cocoa Butter in varying quantities to make different types of chocolate or couvertures. The main types of chocolate and their ingredients are:

  • Dark Chocolate: sugar, cocoa butter, cocoa liquor, and (sometimes) vanilla
  • Milk Chocolate: sugar, cocoa butter, cocoa liquor, milk or milk powder and vanilla.
  • White Chocolate: sugar, cocoa butter, milk or milk powder, and vanilla

Health Effects

With regards to it's effect on Health, Chocolate contains alkaloids such as theobromine and phenethylamine, which have physiological effects on the body. It has been linked to serotonin levels in the brain. Scientists claim that chocolate, eaten in moderation, can lower blood pressure. The presence of theobromine renders it toxic to some animals.

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