Food Of The Gods


Chocolate! Chocolate! Chocolate!

Chocolate is easily available on store shelves all year round, however, the best time to shop for chocolates is during the Christmas season. On this side of the world supermarkets and specialty chocolate shops have started to sell many varieties of chocolate since the beginning of October. The many different types, the attractive packagings, and the heavenly smell of these chocolates are wickedly inviting!   It is difficult to resist the temptation to dump a box or two in your shopping cart! It is not unusual that a shopping expedition for a bunch of fresh lettuce end up with an additional of two boxes of chocolate in the end.

Christmas chocolate.
Source: Soe

Who doesn’t like chocolates?! Chocolate is the most popular sweet treats in many parts of the world. Most people young and old drool at the mention of the word chocolate. Once declared as the food of the gods— a translation from the greek name of the tree Theobroma cacao, chocolate is not only a delicacy but it is also good for your heart and brain. Every year as many as 3 million tons of cocoa beans are consumed all over the world, mostly in Europe, United States, and Canada.

What is chocolate? Chocolate is prepared from the fruits of cacao trees. These trees are native to the Amazon and Orinoco river basins in South America. They thrive in the hot and humid areas within about 20 degrees of the equator. As the popularity of chocolate spread growers began to set up plantations in some other parts of the world. Nowadays Ghana, The Ivory Coast, Nigeria, Indonesia, and Brazil account for 79% of the world’s cacao production.

Cacao pods on a tree.

Cacao trees bear fruits called pods. Each ripe pod is about the size of a papaya and contains up to 50 sour seeds, or beans, covered in white pulp. Workers harvest cacao pods by hand and then use machetes to open the pods to take out the beans. The beans then go through a long process to become nibs, and the nibs are ground down into chocolate liquor. Chocolate liquor does not contain alcohol and is the main source of unsweetened baking chocolate. Chocolate liquor becomes the chocolate we see on store shelves after the addition of some ingredients such as sugar, milk,nuts, raisins, fruits, and other edible goodies. Dark chocolate is better than milk chocolate because dark chocolate contains two to three more times of flavanols (plant based antioxidants).

Cacao beans.

Some studies have found that chocolate is good for heart health. It may also improve cognitive function in the brain, and help in boosting positive moods. A large scale study in the US suggests that eating an ounce of chocolate at least five times a week help in preventing heart attacks and heart failures. This study was conducted on more than 150,000 veterans, mostly male, who did not have coronary artery disease at the beginning of the study. A research conducted in Portugal found that chocolate consumption might lower the risk of cognitive decline in older people. This study looked at nearly 400 Portuguese people aged over 65 and saw that those who ate one chocolate snack a week decrease their risk of cognitive decline by 40% over two years. Chocolate is often associated with positive effects on mood, but the reasons why it makes some people feel good is debatable. Some think that it has more to do with chocolate’s taste and smell rather than its chemical effects. However, chocolate is not always good for everybody. Chocolate consumption may cause heartburn, sweating, trembling, and severe headaches in some people. It may also increase the risk for kidney stones, cause allergic reactions in children, increase blood sugar level in diabetic patients, and can be toxic to some animals.

In the end, the choice of to eat or not to eat chocolate, or what type of chocolate to eat, or how much chocolate to eat, depends on each and every individual. And if you live in a country where chocolates are aplenty . . . .. I am sure you will not be able to resist the chocolate temptations!

References: (article by Jessie Szalay, 28 March 2018),

 Just for fun:

  1. How did chocolate earn the name “the food of the gods”?
  2. Where did cacao trees originally come from?
  3. Find out about the complete process of chocolate production.
  4. What are chocolate’s health benefits?
  5. List the possible bad effects of chocolate consumption.
  6. What is the color of ripe pods?

    Chocolate! Chocolate!Chocolate!
    Source: Soe


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