Find a very interesting facts from Wikipedia about CHOCOLATE!

Chocolate comprises a number of raw and processed foods that are produced from the seed of the tropical cacao tree. Native to lowland, tropical South America, cacao has been cultivated for at least three millennia in Central America and Mexico, with its earliest documented use around 1100 BC. The majority of the Mesoamerican peoples made chocolate beverages, including the Maya and Aztecs, who made it into a beverage known as xocolātl, a Nahuatl word meaning "bitter water". The seeds of the cacao tree have an intense bitter taste, and must be fermented to develop the flavor.

After fermentation, the beans are dried, cleaned, and roasted, and the shell is removed to produce cacao nibs. The nibs are then ground and liquified, resulting in pure chocolate in fluid form: chocolate liquor. The liquor can be further processed into two components: cocoa solids and cocoa butter.

Pure, unsweetened chocolate contains primarily cocoa solids and cocoa butter in varying proportions. Much of the chocolate consumed today is in the form of sweet chocolate, combining chocolate with sugar. Milk chocolate is sweet chocolate that additionally contains milk powder or condensed milk. "White chocolate" contains cocoa butter, sugar, and milk but no cocoa solids (and thus does not qualify to be considered true chocolate).

Chocolate has become one of the most popular flavours in the world. Gifts of chocolate molded into different shapes have become traditional on certain holidays: chocolate bunnies and eggs are popular on Easter, coins on Hanukkah, Santa Claus and other holiday symbols on Christmas, and hearts on Valentine's Day. Chocolate is also used in cold and hot beverages, to produce chocolate milk and hot cocoa.

Chocolate contains alkaloids such as theobromine and phenethylamine which have physiological effects on the body. It has been linked to serotonin levels in the brain. Scientists claim that chocolate, eaten in moderation, can lower blood pressure. Dark chocolate has recently been promoted for its health benefits, including a substantial amount of antioxidants that reduce the formation of free radicals, though the presence of theobromine renders it toxic to some animals, such as dogs and cats.
A mug of hot chocolate. Chocolate was first drunk rather than eaten.
Main article: History of chocolate

Chocolate has been used as a drink for nearly all of its history. The earliest record of using chocolate pre-dates the Maya. In November, 2007, archeologists reported finding evidence of the oldest known cultivation and use of cacao at a site in Puerto Escondido, Honduras, dating from about 1100 to 1400 BC. The residues found and the kind of vessel they were found in, indicate that the initial use of cacao was not simply as a beverage, but the white pulp around the cacao beans was likely used as a source of fermentable sugars for an alcoholic drink. The chocolate residue found in an early classic ancient Maya pot in Río Azul, northern Guatemala, suggests that Mayans were drinking chocolate around 400 A.D.. In the New World, chocolate was consumed in a bitter, spicy drink called xocoatl, and was often flavored with vanilla, chile pepper, and achiote (known today as annatto). Xocoatl was believed to fight fatigue, a belief that is probably attributable to the theobromine content. In 1689 noted physician and collector Hans Sloane, developed a milk chocolate drink in Jamaica which was initially used by apothecaries, but later sold by the Cadbury brothers.

Chocolate was also an important luxury good throughout pre-Columbian Mesoamerica, and cacao beans were often used as currency. For example, the Aztecs used a system in which one turkey cost one hundred cacao beans and one fresh avocado was worth three beans. South American and European cultures have used cocoa to treat diarrhea for hundreds of years.
Chocolate is created from the cocoa bean. A cacao tree with fruit pods in various stages of ripening.

Roughly two-thirds of the entire world's cocoa is produced in Western Africa, with 43% sourced from Côte d'Ivoire. According to the World Cocoa Foundation [WCF], some 50 million people around the world depend on cocoa as a source of livelihood. The industry is dominated by three chocolate makers, Barry Callebaut, Cargill and Archer Daniels Midland Company (ADM) and in the UK, 99.999% of chocolatiers, whether they be large companies such as Cadbury Schweppes or small independents, purchase their chocolate from them, to melt, mould and package to their own design. Despite some disagreement in the EU about the definition, chocolate is any product made primarily of cocoa solids and cocoa fat. The different flavours of chocolate can be obtained by varying the time and temperature when roasting the beans, by adjusting the relative quantities of the cocoa solids and cocoa fat, and by adding non-chocolate ingredients.

Production costs can be decreased by reducing cocoa solid content or by substituting cocoa butter with a non-cocoa fat. Cocoa growers oppose allowing the resulting food to be called "chocolate", because that would lower demand for their crops.

There are two main jobs associated with creating chocolate candy, chocolate makers and chocolatiers. Chocolate makers use harvested cacao beans and other ingredients to produce couverture chocolate. Chocolatiers use the finished couverture to make chocolate candies (bars, truffles, baked goods, etc.).

Chocolate liquor
The dried beans are transported from the plantation where they were grown to a chocolate manufacturing facility.

The beans are then cleaned (removing twigs, stones, and other debris), roasted, and graded. Next the shells are removed to extract the nib. Finally, the nibs are ground which releases and melts the cocoa butter producing chocolate liquor.

Chocolate made with enough cocoa butter flows gently over a chocolate fountain to serve dessert fondue.

There are three things that can be done with the chocolate liquor at this point:
It can be solidified and sold as unsweetened baking chocolate.
Cocoa butter can be removed from it and the result is cocoa powder. There are several mechanisms for removing cocoa butter from chocolate liquor. These include using hydraulic pressure and the Broma process.
Cocoa butter can be added to it to make eating chocolate.

Main article: Types of chocolate
Chocolate liquor is blended with the cocoa butter in varying quantities to make different types of chocolate or couvertures. The basic blends of ingredients for the various types of chocolate (in order of highest quantity of cocoa liquor first), are as follows:
Dark chocolate: sugar, cocoa butter, cocoa liquor, and (sometimes) vanilla
Milk chocolate: sugar, cocoa butter, cocoa liquor, milk or milk powder, and vanilla
White chocolate: sugar, cocoa butter, milk or milk powder, and vanilla
Usually, an emulsifying agent such as soya lecithin is added, though a few manufacturers prefer to exclude this ingredient for purity reasons and to remain GMO-free (Soya is a heavily genetically modified crop), sometimes at the cost of a perfectly smooth texture. Some manufacturers are now using PGPR, an artificial emulsifier derived from castor oil that allows them to reduce the amount of cocoa butter while maintaining the same mouthfeel.

The texture is also heavily influenced by processing, specifically conching (see below). The more expensive chocolates tend to be processed longer and thus have a smoother texture and "feel" on the tongue, regardless of whether emulsifying agents are added.

Different manufacturers develop their own "signature" blends based on the above formulas but varying proportions of the different constituents are used.

The finest, plain dark chocolate couvertures contain at least 70% cocoa (solids + butter), whereas milk chocolate usually contains up to 50%. High-quality white chocolate couvertures contain only about 33% cocoa.
Producers of high quality, small batch chocolate argue that mass production produces bad quality chocolate. Some mass-produced chocolate contains much less cocoa (as low as 7% in many cases) and fats other than cocoa butter. Vegetable oils and artificial vanilla flavor are often used in cheaper chocolate to mask poorly fermented and/or roasted beans.

In 2007, the Chocolate Manufacturers Association in the United States, whose members include Hershey, Nestlé, and Archer Daniels Midland, lobbied the Food and Drug Administration to change the legal definition of chocolate to let them substitute partially hydrogenated vegetable oils for cocoa butter in addition to using artificial sweeteners and milk substitutes. Currently, the FDA does not allow a product to be referred to as "chocolate" if the product contains any of these ingredients.

The final process is called tempering. Uncontrolled crystallization of cocoa butter typically results in crystals of varying size, some or all large enough to be clearly seen with the naked eye. This causes the surface of the chocolate to appear mottled and matte, and causes the chocolate to crumble rather than snap when broken.ref name="temp"/> The uniform sheen and crisp bite of properly processed chocolate are the result of consistently small cocoa butter crystals produced by the tempering process.

The fats in cocoa butter can crystallize in six different forms (polymorphous crystallization).The primary purpose of tempering is to assure that only the best form is present. The six different crystal forms have different properties.
Making good chocolate is about forming the most of the type V crystals. This provides the best appearance and texture and creates the most stable crystals so the texture and appearance will not degrade over time. To accomplish this, the temperature is carefully manipulated during the crystallization.

Generally, the chocolate is first heated to 45 °C (115 °F) to melt all six forms of crystals. Next, the chocolate is cooled to about 27 °C (80 °F), which will allow crystal types IV and V to form (VI takes too long to form). At this temperature, the chocolate is agitated to create many small crystal "seeds" which will serve as nuclei to create small crystals in the chocolate. The chocolate is then heated to about 31 °C (88 °F) to eliminate any type IV crystals, leaving just the type V. After this point, any excessive heating of the chocolate will destroy the temper and this process will have to be repeated. However, there are other methods of chocolate tempering used-- the most common variant is introducing already tempered, solid "seed" chocolate. The temper of chocolate can be measured with a chocolate temper meter to ensure accuracy and consistency. A sample cup is filled with the chocolate and placed in the unit which then displays or prints the results.

Two classic ways of manually tempering chocolate are:
Working the molten chocolate on a heat-absorbing surface, such as a stone slab, until thickening indicates the presence of sufficient crystal "seeds"; the chocolate is then gently warmed to working temperature.
Stirring solid chocolate into molten chocolate to "inoculate" the liquid chocolate with crystals (this
method uses the already formed crystal of the solid chocolate to "seed" the molten chocolate).
Chocolate tempering machines (or temperers) with computer controls can be used for producing consistently tempered chocolate, particularly for large volume applications.

Molten chocolate and a piece of a chocolate bar.
Chocolate is very sensitive to temperature and humidity. Ideal storage temperatures are between 15 and 17 degrees Celsius (59 to 63 degrees Fahrenheit), with a relative humidity of less than 50%. Chocolate should be stored away from other foods as it can absorb different aromas. Ideally, chocolates are packed or wrapped, and placed in proper storage with the correct humidity and temperature. Additionally chocolate should be stored in a dark place or protected from light by wrapping paper. Various types of "blooming" effects can occur if chocolate is stored or served improperly. If refrigerated or frozen without containment, chocolate can absorb enough moisture to cause a whitish discoloration, the result of fat or sugar crystals rising to the surface. Moving chocolate from one temperature extreme to another, such as from a refrigerator on a hot day can result in an oily texture. Although visually unappealing, these conditions are perfectly safe for consumption.

Chocolate is regularly eaten for pleasure. Besides, there are many potential beneficial effects on health of eating chocolate. Cocoa or dark chocolate benefits the circulatory system.
Other beneficial effects are suggested, such as anticancer, brain stimulator, cough preventor and antidiarrhoeal effects. An aphrodisiac effect is yet unproven.
On the other hand, eating large quantities of any chocolate increases risk of obesity. There is concern of mild lead poisoning for some types of chocolate. Chocolate is toxic to many animals because of insufficient capacity to metabolize theobromine.

Health benefits

1. Circulatory benefits
Recent studies have suggested that cocoa or dark chocolate may possess certain beneficial effects on human health. Dark chocolate, with its high cocoa content, is a rich source of the flavonoids epicatechin and gallic acid, which are thought to possess cardioprotective properties. Cocoa possesses a significant antioxidant action, protecting against LDL oxidation, perhaps more than other polyphenol antioxidant-rich foods and beverages. Processing cocoa with alkali destroys most of the flavonoids. Some studies have also observed a modest reduction in blood pressure and flow-mediated dilation after consuming approximately 100g of dark chocolate daily. There has even been a fad diet, named "Chocolate diet", that emphasizes eating chocolate and cocoa powder in capsules. However, consuming milk chocolate or white chocolate, or drinking fat-containing milk with dark chocolate, appears largely to negate the health benefit.Processed cocoa powder (so called Dutch chocolate), processed with alkali greatly reduces the antioxidant capacity as compared to "raw" cocoa powder. Chocolate is also a calorie-rich food with a high fat content, so daily intake of chocolate also requires reducing caloric intake of other foods.

Two-thirds of the fat in chocolate comes in the forms of a saturated fat called stearic acid and a monounsaturated fat called oleic acid. However, unlike other saturated fats, stearic acid does not raise levels of LDL cholesterol in the bloodstream.Consuming relatively large amounts of dark chocolate and cocoa does not seem to raise serum LDL cholesterol levels; some studies even find that it could lower them.Indeed, small but regular amounts of dark chocolate lowers the possibility of heart attack a result of cholesterol imbalance according to the lipid hypothesis.

2. Aphrodisiac
Romantic lore commonly identifies chocolate as an aphrodisiac. The reputed aphrodisiac qualities of chocolate are most often associated with the simple sensual pleasure of its consumption. More recently, it has been suggested that theobromine and other chemicals found in chocolate, most notably phenethylamine, can act as mild sexual stimulants. While there is no firm proof that chocolate is indeed an aphrodisiac, a gift of chocolate is a familiar courtship ritual.

Other benefits
Several population studies have observed an increase in the risk of certain cancers among people who frequently consume sweet 'junk' foods such as chocolate. However, very little evidence exists to suggest whether consuming flavonoid-rich dark chocolate may increase or decrease the risk of cancer. Evidence from laboratory studies suggests that cocoa flavonoids may possess anticarcinogenic mechanisms, but more research is needed to prove this idea.

Studies suggest a specially formulated type of cocoa may be nootropic and delay brain function decline as people age.
Mars, Incorporated, a Virginia-based candy company, spends millions of dollars each year on flavonol research. The company is talking with pharmaceutical companies to license drugs based on synthesized cocoa flavonol molecules. According to Mars-funded researchers at Harvard, the University of California, and European universities, cocoa-based prescription drugs could potentially help treat diabetes, dementia and other diseases.

Other research indicates that chocolate may be effective at preventing persistent coughing. The ingredient theobromine was found to be almost one third more effective than codeine, the leading cough medicine.[The chocolate also appears to soothe and moisten the throat.

Flavonoids can inhibit the development of diarrhea, suggesting antidiarrhoeal effects of chocolate.

Health risks
1. Obesity risk
The major concern that nutritionists have is that even though eating dark chocolate may favorably affect certain biomarkers of cardiovascular disease, the amount needed to have this effect would provide a relatively large quantity of calories, which, if unused, would promote weight gain. Obesity is a significant risk factor for many diseases, including cardiovascular disease. As a consequence, consuming large quantities of dark chocolate in an attempt to protect against cardiovascular disease has been described as 'cutting off one's nose to spite one's face'.

2. Acne
Chocolate, ranging from dark to light, can be molded and decorated like these chickens with ribbons.
There is a popular belief that the consumption of chocolate can cause acne. Various studies seem to show that this is the case for high glycemic index foods in general, though the question is still being studied. Milk is known to cause acne, including any which is mixed with chocolate.
3. Lead
Chocolate has one of the higher concentrations of lead among products that constitute a typical Westerner's diet, with a potential to cause mild lead poisoning. Recent studies have shown that although the beans themselves absorb little lead, it tends to bind to cocoa shells and contamination may occur during the manufacturing process. A recent peer-reviewed publication found significant amounts of lead in chocolate. A review article published in a peer-reviewed journal in 2006 states that despite high consumption levels of chocolate, there is a paucity of data on lead concentrations in chocolate products. In a USDA study in 2004, mean lead levels in the samples tested ranged from 0.0010 to 0.0965 µg lead per gram of chocolate, but another study by a Swiss research group in 2002 found that some chocolate contained up to 0.769 µg per gram, close to the international (voluntary) standard limit for lead in cocoa powder or beans, which is 1 µg of lead per gram. In 2006, the U.S. FDA lowered by one-fifth the amount of lead permissible in candy, but compliance is only voluntary.While studies show that the lead consumed in chocolate may not all be absorbed by the human body, there is no known threshold for the effects of lead on children's brain function and even small quantities of lead can cause permanent neurodevelopmental deficits including impaired IQ.

Toxicity in non-human animals
Main article: theobromine poisoning
In sufficient amounts, the theobromine found in chocolate is toxic to non-human animals such as horses, dogs, parrots, small rodents, and cats (kittens especially) because they are unable to metabolise the chemical effectively. If they are fed chocolate, the theobromine will remain in their bloodstream for up to 20 hours, and these animals may experience epileptic seizures, heart attacks, internal bleeding, and eventually death. Medical treatment involves inducing vomiting within two hours of ingestion, or contacting a veterinarian.
A typical 20-kilogram (40-lb) dog will normally experience great intestinal distress after eating less than 240 grams (8.5 oz) of dark chocolate, but will not necessarily experience bradycardia or tachycardia unless it eats at least a half a kilogram (1.1 lb) of milk chocolate. Dark chocolate has 2 to 5 times more theobromine and thus is more dangerous to dogs. According to the Merck Veterinary Manual, approximately 1.3 grams of baker's chocolate per kilogram of a dog's body weight (0.02 oz/lb) is sufficient to cause symptoms of toxicity. For example, a typical 25-gram (0.88 oz) baker's chocolate bar would be enough to bring about symptoms in a 20-kilogram (44 lb) dog. Of course, baking chocolate is rarely consumed directly due to its unpleasant taste, but other dark chocolates' canine toxicities may be extrapolated based on this figure. As dogs like the taste of chocolate products as much as humans do, and are capable of finding and eating quantities much larger than typical human servings, they should be kept out of their reach. There are reports that mulch made from cacao bean shells is dangerous to pets (and other animals).Treats made from carob can be used to substitute and pose no health threat to animals.


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