Superfood Focus: Cocoa

Cocoa. Cocoa. Chocolate. Its scientific name, Theobroma CacaoAs Carolus Linnaeus called it, it means “food of the gods” in Latin. Whatever you want to call one of the world’s favorite foods, it’s undeniably delicious. However, depending on how you consume it, it may or may not be nutritious. Most of the world’s chocolate consumption is made up of highly processed, roasted beans made into artificial candies mixed with preservatives, sugar and milk, severely limiting its nutritional value. Many of the beneficial vitamins and minerals are destroyed during this process. On the other hand, cocoa, when consumed raw, is one of the healthiest foods you can put into your body. The misconception that raw cocoa is too bitter to be tasty is based solely on ignorance. After tasting a properly prepared raw cacao dish, your chocolate mindset will be indelibly altered.

A brief history

Cocoa has a history that few foods can compete with. Cultivated as early as 1800 BC. C., the cocoa bean has its deep roots in the jungles of South America. The Olmecs were the first to consume it and domesticate the tree. They also considered that it possessed divine properties, using it in sacrificial rituals. The Mayans liked it so much that they used it as currency. It was most commonly consumed in the form of a drink, mixed with water, herbs, and spices. The most famous ancient use of cacao was by the Aztecs, particularly Emperor Mocteczuma II, who supposedly drank 50 cups a day from a golden cup. He also apparently always had a drink before attending his harem. He is cited for having such high praise for it,

“The divine drink, which creates resistance and fights fatigue. A cup of this precious drink allows a man to walk for a whole day without eating.”

Once the Spanish arrived, they brought it back to Europe, shared it only with Portugal, and drank it as the Aztecs did for most of a hundred years in the 15th and 16th centuries. It took the rest of Europe considerable time to realize the value of the mysterious bean, and an English pirate ship allegedly mistook a ship full of sheep droppings and burned the entire batch.

When cocoa finally prevailed in the rest of Europe, it embarked on a long journey of transformation and bastardization. It spread through France, Italy, and England in the 17th century, finally reaching the United States in the 18th century. In 1828, a Dutchman named Coenraad Van Houten invented a machine that extracted the powder, making it possible to turn it into a confectionery and, in the process, change the face of chocolate forever. The English made the first chocolate bar in 1847, and then in 1879, two Swiss men, Daniel Peter and Henri Nestle collaborated to invent milk chocolate, marking the unceremonious abandonment of the traditional, healthy, liquid method of preparation. used in South America for two thousand years. years. One hundred and thirty years later, an average chocolate bar looks very little like Mesoamerican cocoa beers and has a fraction of the nutritional value.

The world market

More than 3,500,000 tons of cocoa are produced per year. About 70% of that comes from West Africa, with the Ivory Coast and Ghana ranking first and third in world production. Our beloved Indonesia ranks second on that list, accounting for just under 20% in 2010! Unfortunately, it is estimated that less than 1% of world production is organic. Hopefully we can change and help change that from our friendly organic island of the gods, Bali. It would be logical that the revitalization of the organic production of the food of the gods began on the island of the gods. Cocoa only grows in the tropics, within 10 degrees of the equator, and is traded as a commodity on two world exchanges, one in London and one in New York. Arguably the most attractive aspect of cocoa production is that a lot of it takes place on small family farms, making it conducive to a more balanced income distribution that is so badly needed by many of the poor countries that produce it.

Nutritional value

Cocoa is packed with vitamins, minerals, and many other beneficial phytonutrients. Packed with antioxidants like flavonoids, which have been shown to have anti-allergy and anti-cancer properties, cocoa has the potential to help cure a host of health problems. It is high in sulfur and magnesium, two of the most essential minerals for good health. It improves blood vessel function and blood flow, which some doctors believe could lead to better cognitive function. This quality has led many to speculate that it could play a role in limiting the negative symptoms exhibited by people with Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s disease.

Although it contains traces of caffeine, its most common stimulant is theobromine, an alkaloid similar to caffeine but lacking the physically addictive properties. Theobromine has been shown to reduce asthma symptoms, relax and soften muscles, and lower blood pressure. Cocoa also contains enzyme inhibitors that can facilitate your recovery and rejuvenation.

In addition to the positive physical health effects that cocoa has, it can also help improve mental and emotional health. Phenylethylamine, a chemical created by the brain and released when we are attracted, excited, or in love, is present in healthy amounts. Anandamide, a chemical that is released when we feel good, is another component of cocoa. There are also more enzyme inhibitors that decrease the body’s ability to break down anandamide, which means that the positive feelings will last longer when you eat cocoa. Finally, it is loaded with tryptophan, a chemical necessary to synthesize serotonin, a chemical that makes us feel happy. Basically cocoa makes you feel great. A healthy dose of cocoa in your diet has been shown to have incredible long-term benefits for both physical and mental health. However, be careful, raw cocoa is very powerful and has a strong effect on the central nervous system, so consuming too much at once can cause similar reactions produced by caffeine; hyperactivity followed by drowsiness.

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