For someone you love
Thank you God, for the Chocolate we relish
CHOCOLATE BY CHEF SAFIULLAH
The word "chocolate" comes from Spanish Aztec xocolatl, which means "bitter water" and helps explain how they consumed it - as a drink with chili peppers and all spice, sometimes chilled with snow. They imported their chocolate into central Mexico, where it was so valued that it was used as a form of currency, with 100 beans worth the price of a slave.
Its earliest documented use is around 1100 BC. Chocolate was important in the Americas as early as 300 AD during the Mayan civilization, when cacao was first domesticated. An ancient Toltec myth identifies Quetzalcoatl, the feathered serpent god, as planter of the cacao trees in the tropics of southern Mexico. He was called "the god of light, the giver of the drink of the gods, chocolate." Both the Mayas and Aztecs regarded chocolate as a potent aphrodisiac.
Much of the chocolate consumed today is in the form of sweet chocolate, combining cocoa solids, cocoa butter and sugar. Milk chocolate is sweet chocolate that additionally contains milk powder or condensed milk. White chocolate contains cocoa butter, sugar, and milk but no cocoa solids. Cocoa solids contain alkaloids such as theobromine and phenethylamine, which have physiological effects on the body. It has been linked to serotonin levels in the brain. Some research found that chocolate, eaten in moderation, can lower blood pressure. Cocoa or dark chocolate may positively affect the circulatory system. Other possible effects under basic research include anticancer, stimulator, cough and antidiarrhoeal activities. According to research, limited amounts of dark chocolate appear to help prevent heart disease. The oxidation of LDL cholesterol is considered a major factor in the promotion of coronary disease. When this waxy substance oxidizes, it tends to stick to artery walls, increasing the risk of a heart attack or stroke. Research has shown the polyphenols in chocolate inhibit oxidation of LDL cholesterol. On the other hand, the unconstrained consumption of large quantities of any energy-rich food, such as chocolate, without a corresponding increase in activity, is thought to increase the risk of obesity. Scientific evidence has suggested dark chocolate can help reduce the risk of cardiovascular problems and also reduce blood pressure in both overweight and normal adults. Finally, studies have shown dark chocolate as part of a low-fat diet can lower cholesterol levels in adults. In August 2011, Cambridge research published in the British Medical Journal: Eating high levels of chocolate could be associated with a significant reduction in the risk of certain cardiovascular disorders.
Gifts of chocolate molded into different shapes have become traditional on certain holidays. Chocolate is also used in cold and hot beverages, to produce chocolate milk and hot chocolate. Chocolate has been used as a drink for nearly all of its history. The largest chocolate bar ever manufactured was in Italy in 2000 and the bar had a weight of 2268 kilograms.
Natural Anti-Depressant: Chocolate contains serotonin, a natural anti-depressant. Chocolate also stimulates endorphin production, which creates feelings of happiness and pleasure. This may explain why many people naturally reach for chocolate when they're depressed.
Cancer Fighter: Several studies have found chocolate to be one of the best cancer-fighting foods along with foods like blueberries, garlic, and tea. Two ways that chocolate works as a cancer fighter is by inhibiting cell division and reducing inflammation, though research is ongoing and will probably find additional ways in which chocolate fights cancer.
Prevents Tooth Decay: Research has found that the theobromine in chocolate prevents tooth decay by eliminating streptococcus mutans, a bacteria found in the oral cavity that contributes to tooth decay.
Longer and disease free life: One Dutch study followed 200 men over 20 years and found that those who consumed large amounts of chocolate, both milk chocolate and dark, lived longer and had lower overall disease rates than men who ate little or no chocolate.
A Harvard study on the Kuna tribe of Panama resulted in similar findings. The Kuna consumed large amounts of raw cacao every day and the study found them to have lower overall disease rates and longer life expectancy than neighboring tribes who did not consume as much raw cacao.
To further strengthen the case for dark chocolate as a life extender, the world's longest-lived person, Jeanne Louise Calment, lived to the age of 122 and many ascribed her longevity in part to her consumption of 2.5 pounds of dark chocolate a week.
High in Magnesium Cacao is higher in magnesium than any other plant. Magnesium is an important mineral that helps in the regulation of the digestive, neurological, and cardiovascular systems. Since many people are magnesium deficient, adding magnesium-rich dark chocolate to the diet can improve overall health.
Artery Cleanup: Studies have shown that the antioxidants in cacao work like brooms in sweeping plaque out of the arteries.
Brain Health: Many studies have shown that dark chocolate is good for the brain. Researchers at Johns Hopkins University found that it can protect the brain after a stroke by shielding the nerve cells from further damage. Dark chocolate has also been found to improve memory. Researchers at California's Salk Institute found that a chemical in chocolate called epicatechin improved the memory of mice.
Acne: There is a popular belief that the consumption of chocolate can cause acne. This belief is not supported by scientific studies. Various studies point not to chocolate, but to the high glycemic nature of certain foods, like sugar, corn syrup, and other simple carbohydrates, as a cause of acne. Chocolate itself has a low glycemic index.
So, this Halloween, while everyone else is gorging on unhealthy candy, grab yourself a bar of dark chocolate or, even better, some raw cacao, and give your body and brain a boost.Parents,out there, if you are worried about the chocolatey habits of kids, read this piece, you won’t regret having a bite.
(The author has done a course in advance chocolate making from New Delhi. Feedback at Safiullah49@yahoo.com)
Lastupdate on : Thu, 12 Apr 2012 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Thu, 12 Apr 2012 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Fri, 13 Apr 2012 00:00:00 IST
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