We’ll be honest, with the holidays coming up we’ve got one thing on our minds, and that one thing is chocolate. So rather than indulging (or rather over-indulging), we thought we would get to the bottom of chocolate, so to speak. Because when you think about it, what even is chocolate? Why is the smell so comforting? Where did it come from? Who do we owe the sincerest of thank yous to? We’re getting to the bottom of it today! Let’s get started.
So first up, what is chocolate? Chocolate comes from the fruit of the Theobroma cacao, a tropical tree native to the Amazon and Orinoco river basins in South America, and roughly translated the name of the tree means “fruit of the gods”. Makes sense. A cacao tree’s fruit is about the size of a papaya and these bumpy pods contain around 50 seeds that are actually very sour and are covered in a white pulp. Cacao trees have to be harvested by hand because machines would cause too much damage, once pods are removed the fermentation process begins. Once fermented the beans dry for several days, and are then taken to the chocolate factory where they are cleaned, then roasted. Next, the beans go into a winnowing machine where the beans are cracked and hulls are removed; what is left is known as a nib, and nibs become chocolate. And just to put it in perspective, it takes about 400 cacao beans to make just one pound of chocolate.
(image via: how stuff works)
Now that we have a deeper understanding of what chocolate is, let’s get into the fun factoids.
If you’re naturally drawn to chocolate-scented candles or simply feel at home when there’s a batch of brownies in the oven, this is because the smell of chocolate increases theta brain waves which actually triggers relaxation.
The darker the chocolate, the higher the caffeine content. And because chocolate contains such high amounts of sugar and caffeine in general, chocolate products have been largely to blame for ADHD in children.
According to the International Cocoa Organization, Europeans LOVE chocolate. In fact, they account for about half of the world’s chocolate consumption.
(image via: paris perfect)
We’ve been told for years that dark chocolate is good for your heart and if you’re wondering how that could possibly be, the answer to that is dark chocolate contains lots of antioxidants that help the cardiovascular system by reducing blood pressure and eating dark chocolate widens arteries and promotes healthy blood flow that can prevent the buildup of plaque that can block arteries. All in all, eating dark chocolate every day can reduce your risk of heart disease by ⅓. Sounds like a win to us!