I could quite possibly live off chocolate I love it so much, so I thought I would share some fun facts about chocolate with you to help you appreciate this yummy indulgence too. As if you needed an incentive though, right? Most people associate chocolate with weight gain, yet chocolate can be a great tool for managing your sweet tooth if you choose the right kind. A little goes a long way, and pure, dark chocolate has many health benefits. The fats in chocolate are similar to the fats in coconut. Although these fats are saturated, they are both derived from plants, and in their pure, natural form, they aren’t bad for your cholesterol like man-made saturated fats or animal sources are. I recommend using a dark chocolate with at least 80% cacao content to reap the benefits of this popular food, or even better, choose raw cacao. Raw cacao is chocolate in its naked form- pure, unadulterated bliss, full of iron, magnesium, fiber and healthy fats. Read these 8 fun facts about chocolate to learn more about this wonderful food. You’ll probably appreciate your next indulgence a little more and even feel a little smarter too!
1. The Birth of the Chocolate Bar
One of the fun facts about chocolate is that the very first chocolate bar ever produced was made in 1842 by the English company Cadbury. I’m sure you all associate the brand with the famous Cadbury eggs you used to get in your Easter basket. Though the bar was first produced by an English company, cacao trees are actually produced in three major regions today, which are South and Central America, West Africa and Southeast Asia.
2. Where Chocolate Comes from
Chocolate actually comes from the fruit of the cacao tree. Most people know they love chocolate but don’t know how it is made. Cacao trees produce a fruit that yields seeds, or what we know as cacao beans. The beans are fermented, heated or left raw, and produced into chocolate. Chocolate actually comes from the Mayan word xocolatl, or “bitter water.”
3. How Much Money We Spend on Chocolate
Approximately 70% of the nearly $500 million spent on candy during the week leading up to Easter is for chocolate. I can definitely believe that, since my Easter basket was always loaded with chocolate versus the marshmallow candy and jelly beans. I’d much rather have the good stuff!
4. The Biggest Chocolate Week of the Year
Would you believe that 90 million pounds of chocolate is sold the week before Halloween in the United States? It takes 400 cacao beans to produce one pound of chocolate. Can you imagine how many cacao beans you ended up eating as a child throughout all those holidays? If we only had a dime per cacao bean we ate, right?
5. The Life of a Cacao Tree
Each cacao tree can produce approximately 2,500 beans. It takes a cacao tree four to five years to produce its first beans. I would sure love to have a few of these trees out in my yard, though I may have to start running people out of my yard if I did!
6. How to Choose Friendly Chocolate
Cacao trees can live to be 200 years old, but they produce marketable cocoa beans for only 25 years. This is all the more reason to buy chocolate from companies that are Fair Trade companies, which ensure that a healthy environment and atmosphere for cacao farmers and the economy surrounding these farms stays in place. Many cocoa farms are actually forms of slavery, which most people don’t know, due to the high demand of chocolate produced in the United States. These slave trades can involve children, and the agriculture surrounding the farms is poor, unsustainable and living in poverty. Fair Trade prevents all of those things. You can support chocolate producers by choosing brands that are Fair-Trade certified. This not only ensures the people were treated ethically who work to produce the chocolate, but it also ensures that the cacao was grown and processed in the most natural way possible. Many major brands are not Fair-Trade certified. To find one, visit Fair Trade USA’s website. There’s a link below you can use to check out of all the yummy companies who produce fair-trade chocolate in the U.S.
7. Chocolate as Medicine
Chocolate is used in many cultures for a variety of medicinal, magical and mythical properties. For this reason it is known as “the food of the gods.” Chocolate is used to treat mild forms of depression, low libido, high blood pressure and fatigue in many cultures. Chocolate is actually used in the Mayan culture for weddings and baptisms. While it isn’t used for medicinal or religious purposes in the United States, we are still one chocolate obsessed nation, with good reason. Chocolate is a powerful food not to be undermined or avoided. It also doesn’t cause acne, and is actually used to treat skin disorders in various cultures.. The sugar and milk in milk chocolate is what breaks your skin out, not the dark stuff. You see, chocolate is actually a beauty food! Score, ladies! Just choose a high cacao content with at least 80% to reap the benefits. I go straight for the dark stuff and buy the 100% baking bars or buy raw cacao nibs.
8. Chocolate is an anti-depressant
It is estimated that 55% of people who suffer depression eat more chocolate than those who don’t. I can certainly believe this, can’t you? What is it about chocolate that makes us happy? For starters, it contains many chemicals and natural substances that fire tons of neurons off in our brain, which increase serotonin production, endorphins, oxcytocin and more. Chocolate can serve as a mild stimulant too, since it contains natural amounts of caffeine. The best way to eat chocolate isn’t to waste your calories on the milky stuff, which is loaded with unhealthy dairy fats, sugar and other unknown chemicals. Instead, eat a little of the pure, dark stuff each day. One ounce is all you need for a little lift in your mood. I love having a little square each afternoon and can certainly say it makes me one happy girl!
While I don’t advise living off chocolate, I do certainly appreciate its benefits and can say my day is always better when I have a little. If you’re not up to eating the good, dark stuff, try stirring a little raw cacao powder or unsweetened cocoa powder into your next smoothie or even your coffee. It is absolutely delicious, contains less fat, more fiber and less calories than whole chocolate. Cocoa powder is full of antioxidants and increases healthy blood flow. Do you have any fun ways to enjoy chocolate? I’m always looking for new ones!