There are a few indulgences that we will never tire of, and chocolate is the best example. An age-old treat that’s exquisite in its simplicity, chocolate is definitely everyone’s favorite. A perfect complement to a cup of espresso… a nice token of appreciation… the ultimate antidepressant… the list of its versatile usages and praiseworthy qualities is endless. But what’s in chocolate that really gets us up? And, most importantly for the health-conscious among us, is it good for our health?
The word chocolate actually means “bitter water” in one of the indigenous South American languages. This is because the seeds of the cacao tree have a very bitter taste and only develop that signature flavor during the fermentation process. When fermented, the beans are dried, cleaned, roasted, shelled, and ground into cocoa mass, the raw material of the chocolate. The chocolate as we know it is actually a combination of cocoa solids, cocoa butter, and some sugar.
The love affair with chocolate
Just as it happens in romantic relationships, our love affair with chocolate is chemistry based. With every piece of our favorite chocolate, we ingest several psychoactive chemicals that stimulate our brain similar to the way cannabis does. Add some amphetamine-like compounds and traces of other stimulants like caffeine and you get the delicious pick-me-up.
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And if you want to trace the origin of our love relationship with chocolate, it comes down to the combination of sugar and fat. It’s present in the treat and in our very first food, breast milk.
The sweetest medicine
When we like something a lot, we want to make sure indulging is not bad for us. Even better is…