Health Benefits of ChocolateJanuary 9, 2023
Chocolate is a food product that is made from the roasted seeds of the cacao tree. It is available as a liquid, a paste or a solid, and it can be eaten by itself or as a flavoring agent for other foods.
Early evidence of chocolate in North America
If you are a lover of chocolate, you might be surprised to learn that it has a long history in North America. Not only is it an important food, but it also was a symbol of wealth and status for the people of the early native American communities.
Chocolate’s popularity soared after Europeans began exploring the continent. A number of archaeological sites in Mexico provide evidence of early chocolate production.
The ancient Maya in Mexico and Central America consumed a spicy drink made of cacao beans. In the Classic Period, this drink was considered a luxury beverage for the nobility.
Cocoa was initially considered a medicine, but it was later used for recreational purposes. It was also used to prevent illness. Cacao was considered a sacred plant in the Mesoamerican pantheon.
Cacao was transported and traded along the East Coast. Boston was a major cacao importer. There is evidence that enslaved Africans were a key part of the chocolate industry in Boston.
Flavonoids in chocolate lower blood pressure
There are many flavonoids found in cocoa, including flavanols, which have been shown to have a variety of health benefits, including lowering blood pressure. Flavonoids relax blood vessels, which helps lower blood pressure. Several studies have shown that consumption of chocolate and other cocoa-rich products can reduce blood pressure, especially in people with hypertension.
One study showed that eating a small amount of dark chocolate daily can lower blood pressure by as much as 3.5 points. The University of Surrey has also conducted research showing that cocoa is beneficial to the cardiovascular system, reducing the concerns that the substance could be harmful.
Researchers analyzed the results of 15 studies. They found that consumption of dark chocolate with at least 50% cocoa decreased diastolic blood pressure by an average of 108 mm Hg. Similarly, consumption of red wine reduced systolic blood pressure by 3.7 mm Hg.
Another study measured the relationship between the frequency of intake of flavonoid-rich foods and blood pressure. Over 900 adults were studied and their blood pressure was recorded.
High fat content
Chocolate is a sweet food with high fat content. Eating too much of it can cause unwanted health consequences. For instance, it can result in diarrhea, vomiting, and even pancreatitis in dogs. Moreover, it can lead to diabetes in adults and children.
In addition, chocolate can provoke allergies, especially in infants. It is also contraindicated in patients with gastrointestinal disorders. And for the diabetic patient, it can be an unhealthy source of energy. Besides, it can affect the behavior of children with ADHD.
One of the most interesting facts about chocolate is that it is a good source of antioxidants. This is because it contains a substance that is close to caffeine. Antioxidants protect the body’s cells from infections and also promote healthy blood vessels and immune systems.
Another interesting tidbit about chocolate is that it is a source of fast carbohydrates. But it is not recommended to give it to kids under the age of three, and older children should not be given more than a couple of slices a day.
Food safety concerns
The chocolate industry has experienced a significant number of food safety incidents over the last decade. Some of these incidents may be caused by cross-contamination of common allergens.
These incidents have been associated with chocolate products in the United States, Europe, and Canada. This trend shows that incidents were increasing from 2002 through 2018.
The number of chocolate product recalls increased significantly from 2010 through 2010. Although these reports are not new, there is still room for improvement.
Chocolate contains a wide range of chemicals and heavy metals, which may be harmful to health. Since the production of chocolate requires a complex manufacturing process, there is always a risk that new contaminants will be introduced.
Fortunately, many of these hazards can be controlled by following a proper manufacturing process. Processed chocolate, for example, contains cocoa butter, sugar, and nuts. It also dilutes biological hazards.
For chocolate products, it is important to maintain an appropriate temperature. Temperatures above 40°C should be avoided. Heat and humidity can promote mold. When inspecting a food, check the internal temperature using a thermometer.