Can you be addicted to chocolate?
A midnight run for a slab of chocolate is a familiar scenario. But I’ve never heard of anyone longing for celery at that hour. That’s likely because foods that deliver a lot of sugar and fat — like chocolate — trigger reward pathways in the brain.
Things you need to know about chocolate.
I thought “cacao” and “cocoa” were just two ways to say the same thing. As far as I was concerned, chocolate was chocolate.
One of the most wildly popular trees on the planet is the cacao, the plant species from which cocoa – and chocolate – is derived. While some might think cacao and cocoa are one in the same, they’re not, exactly. Cacao is the tree, while cocoa is the product made from it. Edible parts of cacao pods and the beans inside them can be processed to make cocoa powder, cocoa butter, or chocolate after being dried and fermented.
It takes about 400 beans to make a pound of chocolate.
The UK is the world’s largest “chocolate” consumer with annual average consumption per capita of 11.5 kg. I put chocolate in inverted commas because most of what is sold in the UK contains less than 1% of cocoa: under French legislation, it would be illegal for it to be called chocolate.
The next time you feel guilty about eating chocolate, be comforted by the fact that Cacoa protects the brain from damage and reduces stress. It also improves memory and focus.
Cacao contains beneficial nutrients including vitamins, minerals, fibre and essential fatty acids – they’re also the richest dietary source of magnesium on the planet.
Because cacoa beans were prized for their medicinal and aphrodisiacal properties, they were traded just like currency among ancient South American civilizations. Rumor has it Casanova was very fond of them.
Cocoa was exported to Europe in 1585 but the first chocolate bar was not made until 1848
Sweetened forms came about when the Europeans landed in the New World and tasted cacao in liquid form. Although they hated it at first, someone discovered that adding honey made it downright delicious. By the 17th century, this form of chocolate was all the rage in Europe, and subsequently, the world.
It still is.