Chocolate is the most loved flavor worldwide. It is gotten from the seeds of cacao tree botanically referred to as Theobroma cacoa grown in abundance in the tropical lowlands of South American countries. Documents found as early as twelfth century have thrown light on the cultivation of the cocoa tree by the Aztec and Mayan civilizations that once thrived in the region now occupied by Mexico and Central America. The early inhabitants of these civilizations were well aware of the flavored preparations from this beverage. The hot frothy drink was linked with wisdom, vitality and fertility. It was believed to have restorative and stimulant features. Recent studies point towards chocolate as a psychoactive food which helps improve cognitive abilities in humans. Initially the ingredients of the seed produce extremely bitter taste due to the presence of alkaloids which upon subsequent fermentation produces the distinctive chocolate flavor. Seeds removed from mature cocoa pods are roasted and then ground to produce the cocoa or the chocolate before its fermentation and subsequent grading. As of now chocolate is marketed in bars which is the in combination of cocoa solids mixed with cocoa butter and sugar.
Chocolate contain alkaloids namely the theobromine and phenethylamine both of which have considerable physiological impact on the human body. It helps elevating serotonin levels in the body. Serotonin helps control emotions such as that of anger, mood swings, and depression. It also regulates body temperature lowers blood pressure and helps overcome fatigue. Theobromine and phenethylamine are weak stimulant. The former is reported to be serving as an effective opiate due to its considerable impact on the vagus nerve under the tongue. It helps to cure cough. The impact of phenethylamine in lifting moods and in generating emotions of affection correctly makes it be referred to as ‘love chemical’ and justifies lovers the world over. This is primarily the reasons why lovers gift their sweet hearts with chocolate on practically every date.
Chocolate is graded according to three varieties of cocoa beans namely the Criollo, Trinitario and Forastero. Criollo is the most sought variety with a unique flavor and is indigenous to Northern and Central American states.
Forastero is native to Amazon basin and Africa. It constitutes an extensive group of wild as well as cultivated cocoa. It is this variety of cocoa which has the distinctive chocolate flavor that we are most used to and is widespread in consumption worldwide. Trinitario is the natural cross between the Criollo and Forastero.
Cocoa trees grow on typical conditions which pertain twenty degree north and twenty degree south of the equator. A temperature below sixty degree Fahrenheit damages the cocoa tree irreversibly. Hence much care is taken beginning right from its cultivation to the final processing and grading.
Rosy Vohra works for online bookstore India
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