From the time I was a little girl sitting in the floor, eating M&Ms, I have loved chocolate. I wish that I could explain my feelings for this bittersweet treat. I do not have a sweet tooth. In fact, I prefer savory over sweet. But for chocolate, I can only confess that I love you!
What Is Chocolate
Chocolate is made from cocoa beans. These beans have been grown in the Americas for thousands of years. The harvesting and fermenting of the cocoa beans occurs in many stages. The beans eventually become chocolate liquor and chocolate butter. This form is then used to make the chocolate delights we love.
Why Do We Love Chocolate
I was quite surprised to discover how many scientific studies have been performed to find out why we love chocolate. First, the most simple explanation is that chocolate triggers a release of endorphins and serotonin in our brains. So, it makes us feel good!
The cocoa bean in its raw form is quite bitter. Chocolate contains many chemicals which both please and stimulate the brain. While the amounts are small, they do tease the senses.
The addition of sugar and fat take chocolate from bitter to creamy and sweet. Milk Chocolate is a favorite of Americans. Click here to read “The Secret of Why We Like to Eat Chocolate.
Scientists have studied the chemistry and the effects of chocolate for years. In a nutshell, they find it just makes us feel good. See “Why Do People Like Chocolate So Much.”
There is much debate as to whether chocolate has health benefits. To sum it up, the answer is not clear. Chocolate itself is not bad for you, however, the sugar levels in it can cause problems with tooth decay and contribute to diabetes. Everything in moderation I suppose!
Kinds of Chocolate
There are three main kinds of chocolate. They are: dark/plain, milk, and white. Each of these are types are chemically different and may affect your body differently. Click here for detailed information about types of chocolate.
White chocolate is easily identified by its cream or ivory color. It is made with sugar, cocoa butter, vanilla and lecithin. These ingredients are what give it a sweet vanilla taste. While I do like white chocolate, I find it a little too sweet. Adding a few pretzels is the perfect pairing.
Milk chocolate is the most classic form of chocolate. It has a sweet creamy flavor. It is made with chocolate liquor, cocoa solids, sugar and milk. This chocolate is brown in color and often characterized by a caramelized smell and the flavor melts in your mouth.
Dark chocolate is deep brown in color and is often referred to as black or semisweet. It is the simplest type of chocolate made with chocolate liquor and sugar.
Dark chocolate has a firm texture and often has a baked brownie or brown spice flavor. I must admit that a good European dark chocolate is my favorite. The slightly bitter flavor along with the texture make it so enjoyable to me.
Fortunately I have a great deal of self control and am able to moderate my consumption of chocolate! It is one of the few foods I truly LOVE! It just tastes, smells and feels good to eat.
So, eat a little chocolate today and release those feel good chemicals! I guarantee it will put a smile on your face!