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Friday, October 31, 2008

For any of you who find pleasure in the occasional vice, chances are, you have more than one. Lurking in the dark alleys of your indulgences may sit other things: alcohol, coffee, pizza with extra cheese, or even chocolate.

Now, if you fancy yourself as a serious indulger, you may think that chocolate isn't as luxurious or sophisticated as other pleasures: after all, chocolate does melt in your hands…and all over your clothes. If you are a male, you may think of chocolate as a "chic's food," believing that the "her" in Hershey's speaks volumes for your standpoint. And, if you're the type who prefers to get your luxuries from other foods, you may believe that there's no point in having a Nestle Crunch, when you can have a Caramel Latte.

While all of you may have valuable points, chocolate has one as well: it's not only good for your taste buds but may also be good for your health. Yes, this is the news schoolchildren have prayed for all their lives.

When it comes to health, dark chocolate seems to be the sweeter of the deals: it has the potential to do the most good. This is because it contains a lot of cocoa, which is a great source of flavonoids (metabolites that may induce processes that fight cancer), and epicatechin (metabolites that help reduce the risk of heart attack, cancer, diabetes, and stroke). Dark chocolate is also high in antioxidants, which, plainly put, are the best friends of human health.

All of these ingredients work together to produce a food that is - both literally and figuratively - good for your soul. A person who eats a moderate amount of chocolate may find a reduction in blood pressure, and a decrease in heart attack risk. While the jury is still out on whether or not dark chocolate can lower LDL cholesterol, researchers agree that, at the very least, it won't higher it. This is due to the fact that the majority of the fat in chocolate comes from stearic acid, an acid that does not add to cholesterol levels.

The health benefits of chocolate not only have the potential to make you feel better about eating it, but they also have the potential to make you feel better from your mood's point of view. Consuming chocolate helps your brain release serotonin, which creates a sense of contentment. For this reason, chocolate has gotten the well-deserved label of a "comfort food."

Still, health benefits aside, it must also be pointed out that chocolate does have some qualities that won't benefit your health, it's biggest one being calories. In order to keep the calories from turning to fat - and creating a slug of other health problems - they must be accounted for. In other words, if you start to eat more chocolate, eat less of something else.

Chocolate has just recently come out as something that can benefit you on a health level. But, this isn't to say that will always prove true. Look, for instance, at the egg. First researchers said that eggs were good for us, then they were bad for us, then they came before, no wait, after the chicken.

For the time being, chocolate appears to be wrapped up in helping human health, allowing those of us who love chocolate to milk these new findings for all that they're worth.

By Jennifer Jordan

Check Out the Related Article : A Guide To Chocolate

Thursday, October 30, 2008

I find the best way to consider the history of chocolate is to actually eat some while I’m reading! We can thank the Mayan Indians for discovering and planting the first cocoa plants in 1500 BC, when the Olmec Indians began to grow them. They used to dry out the beans and then grind it up and use as the base of a watery drink just like we do with tea or coffee today. This was such a delicacy that only the social elite were able to afford such luxury by the time of the Mayans. When Columbus first began to explore the new world he was introduced to the coco bean as cargo a Mayan trader was carrying.

Europeans Invent the First Chocolate Drink

Cacao beans were not very popular after Columbus brought back the first supplies. In fact it took some laterally minded monks to try the drink as a hot beverage. This immediately became popular throughout Spain. Soon Chocolate Houses opened throughout Europe. In the 1700’s the first steam mechanized coco grinders which lead to a price drop in coco production that made chocolate available for all.

At Last – Solid Eating Chocolate

As the hot drink spread as a favorite drink, people became more adventurous and experimented with using the cacao beans differently. Soon the powder was being used in cakes and desserts. It became obvious that the combination with sugar was a vital developmental step. Around the time of the American Revolutionary War, Bakers Chocolate Company began large scale manufacturing.

The Chocolate Revolution Begins

Whilst the Bakers Chocolate Company was influential in North America, the Dutch were quickly moving to widespread use of Cocoa powder produced by a process named after the country, the “Dutching” method. This process produced a fine grained powder which is still a favorite with chocolate connoisseurs.

Chocolate Spreads its Wings

Soon chocolate began to be used to make candies of varyoing types. The “Dutched” method lent itself to multiple uses and when combined with cocoa butter the modern chocolate styles began to emerge. This was especially evident with the production of moldable treats which we call chocolate truffles.

The history of chocolate in America features a rich diversity of baked goods and candies. One of the baked goods beloved by Americans are brownies, the first published recipe for this now classic treat was published in the Sears Roebuck Catalogue back at the end of the 19th century. The Hershey Company and the Nestle Company were making so much money in the United States, that a Belgian confection maker opened Godiva Chocolate Company in 1926; all three companies are still popular chocolate manufacturers today.

By Michael Haydon

Check Out the Related Article : A Guide To Chocolate

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Bitter, bubbly, and spicy—these were the characteristics of chocolates during the earlier times. According to studies, the Aztecs were the first to discover chocolate, although no one is sure as to exactly how this came about. Cacao trees were abundant in the deep jungles of Central America. The Aztecs collected seeds from these trees. After fermenting and drying these seeds, they were roasted and crushed with spices and water, bringing forth the first version of chocolate.

Chocolate was once a ceremonial drink in Central America. Chocolate played a big part in the social and religious practices of the people from this area. Chocolate was further considered a sacred item, earning the favor of the members of royalty. When the Spaniards found out about this exotic item and where it came from, they brought samples of cacao to Spain, where it became a court favorite. In 1700, hot chocolate was sold all over England. By 1847, English candy makers had found a way to make the chocolate drink solid, giving way to the snack food most people love.

Nowadays, chocolates are best known as the sweet candies that both kids and adults enjoy. Not a lot of people can resist this sweet-tasting delicacy that melts in the mouth and makes one crave more.

The process of making chocolate is complex because it involves many steps in order to produce a delicious-tasting product. A quality chocolate includes the right amount of cocoa butter. It has no artificial additives for either color or flavor. Furthermore, it includes only natural ingredients and contains 30 percent or more of cocoa.

Indeed, chocolate has come a long way since it was first discovered. It has enjoyed extreme popularity throughout the times.

By Eddie Tobey

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