The Origins of Chocolate
Hot chocolate is sometimes an inseparable part of our homemade haven in the cold winter. You are comfortably wrapped with a blanket with a steaming mug of hot chocolate in your hands. This is one of the most rewarding things after long and tiresome day at work. However, few are aware that the sweet liquid dates back to 1700 BC. In southern Mexico, there was a civilization which actually may have discovered the first recipe for hot chocolate, or cocoa drink. There were traces of chocolate found in pottery. People then used the fruits of cacao trees to make the predecessor of modern chocolate. Other Mexican civilizations ‘stole’ the recipe but made it spicy with chili and drank it tepid. The conquistadors brought the recipe to Europe and the Spaniards made their own version by adding sweeteners such as cinnamon and sugar. It was even thought that chocolate has medicinal properties. The Aztecs believed it had energizing properties and would drink a mixture with cacao before going to battle. This is kind of true since their recipe was high on caffeine, calories and antioxidants. It is normal to feel refreshed due to the caffeine and the Aztec took advantage of those properties. During the Revolutionary War, dying and wounded soldiers received cups of hot chocolate to rejuvenate themselves.
During 17th century in England, there were special places where the upper class went to drink hot chocolate which was considered a fancy drink back then. ‘Chocolate houses’ began to emerge and attracted the elite. Hot chocolate was served in golden, silver and porcelain pitchers. The aristocrats would meet in chocolate houses to comment on the political situation, gossip, flirt and gamble. All these were accompanied by a cup of hot chocolate.
People usually call any hot drink that contains chocolate ‘hot chocolate’. What people do not realize is that most of the time, they are actually drinking hot cocoa. Cocoa powder does not contain fat. It is stripped away from the cocoa either through a natural way or through a chemical process. Hot chocolate, on the other hand, still has its full fat content untouched.
In recent years, the interest in hot chocolate is renewed. There are many restaurants that experiment with new recipes such as those containing exotic spices. There are many varieties of hot chocolate which include all kinds of flavors. Some sell hot chocolate with ginger, others with chili and others include alcohol such as rum.
There is even a record for the largest cup of hot chocolate. It is hold by Tampa Bay’s Museum of Science and Industry. For that preparation of the sweet concoction, 1100 pounds of cocoa and 87 gallons of powdered milk were used. The result was 880 gallons of hot chocolate.
What chocolate is made up of
Not all hot chocolate sold out ther is beneficial for your health. Most of them are high in calories or have additives which are more harmful than healthy. Still, in moderate amounts, a high quality hot chocolate can have a really positive effect on your body and soul.
Hot chocolate has plenty of antioxidants due to its high level of flavonoids. Antioxidants are extremely important for the human body. They keep us healthy and have really important functions. They fight free radicals and eliminate their harmful effect by removing them from the body. There are different kinds of antioxidants and each has different role in maintaining our health. They are beneficial for the immune system, protect the skin, improve the memory, protect our sight, fight mood disorders, prevent cancer, and protect us from heart diseases. A research found out that cocoa has the highest amount of antioxidants. Red wine has two times less antioxidants than cocoa; green tea has two to three times less of them and black tea has four to five times less antioxidants compared to cocoa. Dark chocolate has the highest health benefits. It is found that dark chocolate reduces blood pressure, lowers bad cholesterol and improves blood vessel health.
Cocoa contains iron, manganese, magnesium and zinc.
- Iron participates in the creation of red blood cells. It keeps muscles strong by supplying them with oxygen. The brain also benefits from iron. It requires plenty of oxygen to perform its cognitive functions and the proper flow of blood provides it. This mineral regulates body temperature, fights chronic diseases, synthesizes norepinephrine, dopamine and serotonin. Iron also decreases fatigue and boosts the immune system.
- Manganese keeps our bone structure healthy. It increases the density of the bones and helps prevent osteoporosis. This mineral also fights free radicals and balances the level of sugar, thus actively participates in the fight against diabetes. It helps vitamin absorption and keeps the brain and the nervous system healthy and functioning properly.
- Magnesium helps the proper functioning of muscles and nerves. It also keeps bones healthy by keeping their regular density. This mineral prevents asthma, cures back pain and cramps and prevents heart attacks. It regulates sugar levels which prevents diabetes and also cures psychiatric disorders.
- Zinc is an essential part of keeping your skin healthy and good looking. It improves the cognitive functions of the brain, plays an important role in weight loss, diminishes chronic fatigue, boasts reproductive functions and keeps men away from prostate disorders.
Chocolate milk nutrition facts
Chocolate milk is sweetened milk with cocoa flavor. It not only has amazing taste, it also contains 16 nutrients. It contains selenium, zinc, phosphorus, potassium, calcium, vitamin D, folate, pantothenic acid, thiamine, niacin, riboflavin, vitamins B6, B12, vitamin A and protein.
- Vitamin A plays important role in bone development and structure. It also keeps the skin healthy and improves night vision. It has a role in cell division and growth and boosts the immune system.
- Vitamin B6 keeps the blood vessels healthy and prevents the development of heart disease. It keeps the levels of cholesterol normal and manages blood pressure. It has a key function in cognitive functions and protects you from Alzheimer’s disease and dementia. This vitamin also improves mood and prevents depression and anxiety.
- Vitamin B12 maintains energy levels, prevents memory loss, boosts mood, benefits nervous system and keeps the heart healthy. Skin and hair also benefit from this vitamin. It helps with the production of digestive enzymes so that you will have proper digestion.
- Riboflavin improves metabolism and aids tissue formation.
- Folate participates in the formation of red blood cells.
- Pantothenic acid also improves metabolism and plays an important role in tissue formation.
The health benefits are evident in both hot chocolate and chocolate milk. These minerals, vitamins and antioxidants have positive effect over the body.
Listed below are the average nutritional values of some of your favorite chocolate drinks.
|Serving size: 1 cup||Fat(g)||Carbs(g)||Protein(g)||Calories|
|Regular hot chocolate||5.82||26.58||8.8||192|
|Hot chocolate with nonfat milk||0.7||29.97||8.6||158|
|Hot chocolate with low fat milk||2.75||30.1||8.6||178|
|Chocolate milk(whole milk)||8.5||25.8||7.9||208|
|Chocolate milk(reduced fat)||4.7||30.3||7.4||190|
|Chocolate milk(low fat)||2.5||24.6||8.6||155|
|Dark hot chocolate||1||17||0||80|
Go on, enjoy your cup of hot chocolate anytime you like!