By Tara Vaghela
“All I want is peace, love, understanding, and a chocolate bar
bigger than my head” – Anonymous
Almost everyone in the world loves chocolate, it's a weakness we happily indulge in and yes, I am someone who is mostly definitely hooked on chocolate!
World Chocolate Day is celebrated each year on 7th July, as it’s believed this is the date cocoa was first introduced into Europe in 1550. Prior to this, chocolate was limited to specific countries; South and Central America and Mexico.
In Aztec culture, chocolate was often used as a form of currency. Chocolate was discovered by invaders of these countries and then travelled around the world, becoming popular everywhere it was taken. It is said that a Spanish explorer was served a chocolate based drink by the Aztec Emperor, Montezuma, the explorer returned to Spain with the chocolate drink but added vanilla, sugar and cinnamon to improve its bitter taste.
Solid chocolate was not introduced until the 1800s, when Dutch Chemist, Van Houten, invented “Dutch processing”; which turned chocolate into a powder, and the cocoa press; which separated cocoa butter from roasted cocoa beans. These processes made chocolate more affordable to everyone and opened the door for mass production.
Today, approximately 30% of the world’s cocoa is grown in Africa, despite the cocoa bean originally coming from the Amazon.
Chocolate is considered unhealthy due to the large amount of sugar added by confectionary companies. However, dark chocolate containing at least 85% cocoa is considered great for health.
Dark chocolate can be a natural mood enhancer and contains a number of properties that can help immunity, heart health, boost memory and brain function. Dark chocolate consumed two or three times a week, in moderation, can help control weight, aid digestion and reduce sugar cravings.