Cocoa grows on the Theobroma cacao tree of the family Malvaceae, and is native of the tropical regions of Central and South America. The fatty seeds were harvested, dried and fermented and the solids extracted and processed, and the resulting solids used to manufacture foods, beverages and cosmetics. This was an amazing achievement of biochemistry and food science for as early as 1800 BC. Today the same process is used to extract the solids, although manufacturing processes have changed considerably.
Cocoa was considered a sacred beverage and and was used in marriage and betrothal rituals by the Mayans. Cocoa beans were of such value that they were used as a form of currency in the 1300s by the Mayans, and the Spaniards made efforts to keep cocoa and its by-product, chocolatl, a secret. Their efforts failed chocolate became the most popular delicacy in Europe. During the 18th century the popularity of hot chocolate and chocolate sweet confections was discovered, and specialty stores opened all through the European countries. Chocolate is still valued by many for its versatility and flavor, considered a vehicle for romantic messages and improving romantic relationships, and the most frequent gift for Valentine’s day. In some countries such as Mexico cocoa is a staple food used in both sweet and savory foods.
Chocolate is more than just a delicacy. Evidence suggests that eating between 46 to105 grams a day can result in a moderate lowering of blood pressure, helps lower blood pressure and improves circulation. Its high flavonoid content lowers cholesterol and the risk of diabetes. It's no wonder that cocoa it has been used for an array of medicinal purposes, and the unfermented cocoa seeds and seed coat used to treat a variety of ailments, including diabetes, digestive and chest complaints. Cocoa powder prepared from fermented cocoa beans is used to prevent heart disease and cocoa butter is sometimes used to lower cholesterol levels, in a wide variety of foods and pharmaceutical preparations, and as an ingredient in moisturizers.
Feel free to enjoy a cup of cocoa this winter, or use it as an ingredient in a savory sauce or sweet dessert.Try one of our delicious recipes like Chocolate Peanut Butter Shake,Rich Choco-Nutty Shake, or Peanut Butter Cup Pudding in Flavorful Fortified Food – Recipes to Enrich Life.