✪✪✪ Two Reasons Why Chocolate Milk Should Stay

Thursday, August 05, 2021 9:24:19 AM

Two Reasons Why Chocolate Milk Should Stay

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And, not only does eating chocolate make you feel good, it may also be good for your heart and your brain. Chocolate is prepared from the fruit of the Theobroma cacao , a tropical tree whose name means "food of the gods" in Greek, according to " Chocolate: Food of the Gods ," an online exhibit by the Cornell University Library. Theobroma cacao trees are native to the Amazon and Orinoco river basins in South America.

The trees are widely distributed from southeastern Mexico to the Amazon River. They thrive in hot, humid areas within about 20 degrees of the equator, according to Cornell. As the popularity of chocolate spread, growers established plantations in other regions, such as West Africa and South and Southeast Asia. Cacao trees bear fruit that are about the same size and shape of a papaya, according to Patric Chocolate. These bumpy, lumpy berries, or pods, are full of up to 50 sour seeds, or beans, covered in white pulp. Cacao seeds are harvested by hand because machines could injure the trees, according to Cornell. Workers remove the pods, which are orange when they are ripe, and open them with a machete.

The seeds are placed in large fermentation trays that are stacked and covered in banana leaves, where they are left for two to seven days. Fermentation produces the chocolate flavor and aroma. It also destroys the seed's embryo, preventing unwanted germination, and causes the white pulp to fall away from the seeds. After fermenting, the beans dry out on sunny platforms. Workers turn them several times a day for three to five days to complete drying. The beans can dry faster in rotary driers but sun-dried beans taste the best, according to Cornell. Next, the beans are taken to the chocolate factory, where they are cleaned and debris is removed.

The beans are roasted in large, rotating ovens. The roasting draws out flavor and removes the beans from their hulls. Roasted beans go into a winnowing machine, which cracks the beans and removes hulls. The remaining part of the bean is called the nib. Nibs become chocolate. The nibs are ground down under a series of rollers. This process results in a thick paste called chocolate liquor. Chocolate liquor does not contain alcohol however, chocolate liqueur does.

At this stage, the type of chocolate being produced is determined. According to the FCIA, ingredients separate fine chocolate from that of average quality. Additional flavors or ingredients like nuts can be added later. Fine chocolate falls into three categories: dark chocolate, milk chocolate and white chocolate, Williams said. Chocolatiers debate whether white chocolate is really chocolate. Until , the U. Food and Drug Administration considered it a confectionary rather than chocolate because it does not contain chocolate liquor. The Hershey Food Corp. Because the FDA refers to it as white chocolate, rather than confectionary, some experts, like Williams, accept white chocolate as chocolate.

Within the three categories, the FDA also acknowledges several grades, Williams said. They include unsweetened or brute, which can be up to 99 percent chocolate liquor; bittersweet; semisweet; and dark milk chocolate. The type of chocolate depends on what ingredients are present and the percentage of cocoa, in addition to where the beans are from and the way they are prepared. Several recent studies have examined the role that chocolate may have on heart health. Cacao beans are full of phytonutrients, which act as antioxidants and provide additional benefits. Furthermore, cacao beans are rich sources of iron, copper, magnesium, zinc and phosphorus, according to the Harvard T. Chan School of Public Health.

Dark chocolate contains two to three times more beneficial flavanols than milk chocolate because milk chocolate's cacao concentration is diluted with milk and possibly more sugar. While most studies have found some correlation between chocolate consumption and reduced risk of heart problems, the amount and type of chocolate needed requires further study. A meta-analysis of the effects of chocolate on coronary heart disease, stroke and diabetes published in the journal Nutrients concluded that the most benefit was associated with moderate chocolate intake. The authors found little benefit in heart disease or stroke reduction among people who consumed chocolate more than three times a week. Protective effects against diabetes emerged at two servings a week, but that benefit disappeared if people had more than six servings a week.

On the other hand, the findings of a large-scale study of more than , primarily male U. Chocolate may also help prevent the development of atrial fibrillation, a type of irregular heartbeat that increases the risk of heart failure, stroke and more. A study, published in the journal Heart in , found that adults who ate chocolate at least once a month had 10 to 20 percent lower rates of developing atrial fibrillation than those who never or rarely ate chocolate.

Chocolate may be good for the brain. Some studies have focused on chocolate's ability to improve cognitive function. A study published in the Journal of Alzheimer's Disease in found that chocolate consumption might lower the risk of cognitive decline in older people. The study looked at nearly Portuguese citizens over age 65 and saw that those who ate a moderate amount of chocolate — on average, one chocolate snack a week; the study did not differentiate between milk and dark chocolate — decreased their risk of cognitive decline by 40 percent over two years. Those who ate more chocolate, or those who had more caffeine, saw fewer cognitive benefits. Chocolate is often associated with positive effects on mood, but the reasons why it makes some people feel good are debatable.

Chocolate contains substances that stimulate the brain in the same way cannabis does, such as anandamines, and substances that have similar effects as amphetamine, such as tyramine and phenylethylamine, according to the Dartmouth Undergraduate Journal of Science. However, these substances are in very low concentrations — too low to induce an antidepressant effect. Courtesy Shannon Daly Striner. Rachel Maddow says she had surgery for skin cancer after partner saw change in mole. Woman with ovarian cancer who urged others to know symptoms dies at Courtesy Susan Berger. She tested negative for BRCA, but had another dangerous breast cancer gene mutation. Now is the time to get your flu shot, experts stress. Ron Galella Collection via Getty Images.

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