Would you believe it's a health food?
documented reference to chocolate goes back more than ten thousand
years before the birth of Jesus. In Central America, it seems most
of the cultures there made a bitter drink from chocolate. In fact,
the Aztecs called the drink, literally, bitter water.
from cocoa, which comes from the seeds/beans of the cocoa tree. They are
extremely bitter and must be fermented before they actually taste
like chocolate. The beans are dried and roasted and
the shell is removed. You then have the cacao nibs which eventually
produce the product we all know as chocolate, but only after a
liquefied form of the nibs is broken down into cocoa solids and
cocoa butter. The dark chocolate we all know and love comes from the
cocoa solids, a small amount of cocoa butter, and added sugar. Milk
chocolate has either powdered milk or condensed milk added. White
chocolate has cocoa solids, milk, and sugar but no cocoa solids.
enough, in Central America, as chocolate got sweeter and sweeter, it
also hotter and hotter with the addition of cayenne pepper. Many
Mexican recipes call for a spicy chocolate, the most famous being
Chicken Mole. We have an authentic recipe (made slightly healthier)
located right here: Chicken Mole.
Your editor purchases all his chocolate making
at the Raw Food World
Cacao trees are
found in tropical rainforests, in both Central America and in the
West Indies. How it got to Africa and the Ivory Coast I’m not sure,
but today the jungles of the Ivory Coast provide 43% of the world’s
cocoa. George Carlin once said that environmentalists renamed
jungles to rainforests because nobody wanted to save a
jungle. Harvesting jungles will save them. The Cacao tree is one of
the most important plants in this world, and I’ll show you why.
contains more antioxidant flavonoids than red wine, green tea and
blueberries. In your bloodstream these antioxidants protect against
LDL oxidation which leads to arterial sclerosis.
Chocolate is heart
food. Many studies, including one conducted at the German Institute
of Human Nutrition, show that chocolate consumption lowers the risk
of cardiovascular disease and reduces blood pressure. In one 15-year
study (using men 65 and older), they found that the men who consumed
the least amount of cocoa were twice as likely to die from a heart attack,
while those who consumed the most cocoa were much less likely to die
from “any” cause. Another study performed at the Karolinska
Institute in Stockholm (JAMA September 2009), found that heart
attack survivors who ate chocolate two or three times a week reduced
their risk of death up to 300% compared to survivors who did not eat
Flavonels in cocoa
(antioxidants) increase blood flow to the brain.
High levels of sulfur
and magnesium (great for the cardiovascular system) increases focus
Cocoa is a natural
antidepressant; it contains both serotonin and L-tryptophan which is
a precursor to serotonin. Additionally, cacao extends the amount of
time anadamide (a happiness compound) stays in your system. One
'better than kissing') concluded that melting chocolate in your mouth produces an increase
in heart rate and brain activity that is more intense than
passionate kissing and lasts four times longer after it’s over.
In sports medicine,
it’s been found that cacao helps people recover from extreme exercise
faster than most high-carb choices.
anti-asthmatic compounds theobromine and theyophilline.
Cacao decreases anxiety
and stress levels in numerous clinical trials by reducing stress
Chocolate is actually
good for your teeth, as the theobromine compound kills the bacteria
that cause cavities.
Cacao contains zinc, a
key mineral that supports a healthy immune system (how often have
you been told to take some zinc to shorten your colds and cough?).
Cacao contains copper,
bioflavonoids, and procyanidins that keep your blood healthy,
supporting the entire cardiovascular
system and preventing strokes.
Finally, chocolate is
big business. It employs a lot of people. In the US it’s a 13
billion dollar industry; worldwide, over 60 billion.
But there is a
problem with the chocolate industry. At last count (2002) there were
284,000 children working on cocoa farms in hazardous and inhumane
conditions. Many of these children had been sold into slavery by
their families, creating quick income while leaving one less mouth
Treehugger.com we found:
The U.S. chocolate industry has faced multiple deadlines
requiring new protocol, and yet little has changed. Under pressure
from Congress, in the Harken-Engel Protocol, the U.S. chocolate
industry agreed to voluntarily take steps to end child slavery on
cocoa farms by July of 2005. This deadline has since passed, and the
chocolate industry has failed to comply with the terms of this
There is only
one way to make sure that your chocolate does not support child
Fair Trade chocolate. If everyone purchased Fair Trade
chocolate, we could end the practice of using children completely.
Great American Chocolate Company, fired 75,000 workers and moved
their offices to Mexico where they can pay their workers a lot less
than American workers. In fact, the wages are so small that many
Mexicans would still rather cross the borders to find better jobs
in the US.
Refusing to buy
from Hershey’s, Mars, Nestles and the rest will send a message to
One very sad
point I must make right now is that there are NO Baking Chocolates
that are Fair Trade. In this case, choose organic. Then write those
companies demanding Fair Trade Chocolate.
fair trade, you have to choose a chocolate that is healthy for you
since so many chocolates are filled with refined sugar or fructose,
trans fats, and artificial flavors and colors.
contains a bit of fat too, so these little bites are high in calorie
content, and you can’t just pig out on them and think you’re doing
your body good.
So here are the
Dark (as opposed to
milk chocolate, although milk chocolate has healthful benefits too)
Eat in moderation, and
you’ll live a long and happy life.
We've just published (spring
2010) three very healthy chocolate recipes: