Joseph Fry is reputed to have made the first commercial chocolate bar in 1847. And we’ve been hooked on the stuff ever since.
Chocolate, however, has been consumed for many centuries before Joseph Fry began his production line. Montezuma was drinking chocolate in his Aztec empire in the 1500’s . It was then a bitter spicy drink called Xocoatl. Today it is a $100 billion industry that causes more harm than good, so the nutritionists say.
High chocolate consumption causes blood pressure issues, heart disease, diabetes, obesity and of course has a part to play in skin problems like acne and ecxma.
And it can kill your dog and cat. (Chocolate contains theobromine, a toxic substance for dogs and cats, which they can’t metabolize.)
So how can chocolate be part of a Vegan diet ?
Well, the fact is, it depends on what kind of chocolate you eat.
It takes 400 cocoa beans to make one pound of chocolate.
When you eat dark chocolate with 75% or more or cocoa in it, then chocolate can actually reduce your risk of heart disease. The antioxidants and flavenoids go to work for you in your body. All powerful stuff..
A 100 gram bar of Dark Chocolate contains a large proportion of your daily iron, copper, magnesium and manganese requirements, plus good helpings of potassium, zinc and selenium. This strength of chocolate stimulates the body and also promotes calming effects, improves the blood flow and lowers blood pressure. The bigger percentage of cocoa in the chocolate, the better.
The problems arise when the food manufacturers get their hands on the product. Suddenly the cocoa count goes down, and is replaced by other ingredients that don’t have the beneficial effects, but are a lot cheaper to produce. So all sorts of leftover milk slops, sugars, sweeteners and preservatives go into the mixer, and Milk Chocolate comes out at the other end. Now the chocolate contains less than 20% cocoa. The health benefits are gone, and the downside is lethal.
Throw in some peanuts and a lot of goo, corn syrup, more sugar and other sloppy stuff, and you have nutritional time bombs just waiting to blow up your body.
When the Spanish brought the chocolate drink back from the Americas, it took a while to become popular. It was a drink only for the privileged. But gradually the taste caught on, and when Mr Fry turned the drink into a food, a new market was formed.
When cocoa prices slumped in the late 1800’s, chocolate bars became more affordable for everyone. In 1905 Cadbury’s introduced Dairy Milk, and Milk Tray hit the shelves in 1915. Today Cadbury’s is the second largest confectionery brand in the world (behind Wrigleys) and is part of a multi-national conglomerate. The need for chocolate just keeps rising.
It is noticeable that while prices increase, the size of chocolate bars decrease, but the buying public don’t seem to mind. They just buy two bars instead of one. Whole aisles are filled with chocolate bars and treats.
The high cocoa dark chocolate will be there. You just have to look for it. It will be tucked away on a top shelf. Just dark chocolate, no goo, slightly bitter taste. Very boring. Top shelf.
But that is what you need to look for if you want to put chocolate in your diet. You will find the best organic brands in your health food shops rather than the supermarket. Don’t forget, the higher percentage of cocoa, the better for you.
I’d love to hear your stories and opinions of chocolate. Leave me a comment in the box below or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
If you want to read more about the benefits of dark chocolate, and see some great recipes for using dark chocolate, then I recommend Andrea Silver’s book, The Ultimate Dark Chocolate Cookbook, available from Amazon. Click the link to check it out.