Chocolate is derived from the cacao plant’s pods, which grow in the tropics. Chocolate’s roots may be traced back to the Mayans, who are said to have been the first to grow the cacao plant.
The chocolate industry goes through many stages; Which starts from the pods of the cocoa plant, from which the seeds are extracted, and then fermented, dried, and roasted, and then the seed shell is separated from the cocoa nibs; Which is milled and turned into a liquid substance after it is separated from the fatty part called cocoa butter, then the liquid substance extracted from cocoa seeds is filtered and used to produce well-known chocolate bars, while the rest of the cocoa seeds are ground and turned into a powder used in baking and preparing Drinks .
Benefits of Chocolate
Chocolate is rich in a group of compounds that have antioxidant properties called flavonoids. In addition, chocolate contains small amounts of some vitamins and minerals, such as Vitamin B12, iron, magnesium, manganese, calcium, phosphorous, and copper. Here are some benefits of chocolate:
- Reducing blood pressure: This may be due to the fact that chocolate contains phenols that reduce blood pressure, and the flavonols in it stimulate the endothelium in the arteries to produce nitrogen monoxide, which contributes to enhancing blood flow and reducing pressure.
- Enhance memory power: The flavonols found in chocolate, cocoa powder, and other foods can be beneficial for brain function, and these compounds are characterised by their anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties.
- Reduce depression: It was found in an observational study that people who ate dark chocolate were less likely to develop symptoms of depression.
- Improving athletic performance: this is due to the fact that chocolate contains flavonols and epicatechin, which are compounds that promote the production of nitrogen monoxide, which improves blood circulation and reduces the amount of oxygen that athletes need during exercise of moderate intensity.
- Reducing the risk of Alzheimer’s disease: There is strong evidence to support that cocoa and chocolate extracts can promote brain health and reduce the risk of age-related neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease.
- Reducing the risk of stroke: In a meta-analysis published in Neurology in 2012, it included 37,000 men between the ages of 45 and 79 by tracking their diet for 10 years; It was found that men who ate more or about a cup of chocolate per week had a 17% lower risk of stroke compared to those who didn’t eat it.
Chocolate side effects
It should be noted that the cocoa content of chocolate is not considered harmful, but the greatest harm is in the additives of commercial types, especially sugar and fat, which can hinder the process of losing weight and provide the body with what are known as “empty calories” in a large way. That is, they do not provide the body with the basic and important nutrients for its health. Here are some of the health problems that may be associated with the consumption of chocolate.
- Some people may, in rare cases, suffer from an allergic reaction to cocoa, and according to the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology, cocoa allergy is rare. For those who suffer from allergies, eating or touching chocolate may cause symptoms such as hives, stomach cramps, shortness of breath, vomiting, wheezing when breathing, and swelling of the lips, tongue, or throat.
- Eating chocolate can stimulate the secretion of serotonin in the brain, which causes a feeling of happiness, and some believe that this can cause an addiction to eating chocolate.But this effect is not certain.
- Chocolate products contain caffeine in varying amounts, and amounts of caffeine may be added to chocolate during its manufacture to increase the feeling of energy in the body.Consuming excessive amounts of caffeine may cause some side effects, such as: nervousness, insomnia, rapid heartbeat, and increased urination.
- Some cocoa powder, chocolate bars, or even cocoa nibs can contain high levels of lead and cadmium, two heavy metals that are toxic to the kidneys, bones, and other body tissues.
- Sugary foods and drinks, such as chocolate, are among the main causes of tooth decay. This is because they contain sugar, which is decomposed by bacteria in the mouth, and this leads to the production of acid that causes dissolving the surface of the teeth, which is the first stage of tooth decay.
Read also : Factors influencing Vitamin D production