Stay home from work and celebrate this monumental holiday. You're welcome.
What do you think of when you hear the word, "chocolate?" Brownies? Chocolate cake? Hot chocolate? Chocolate mousse? Hot fudge drizzled over ice cream? All of the above? Me, too!
According to the National Day Calendar, today, October 28, is a day to celebrate all things chocolate. Whether you choose white chocolate, dark chocolate, or milk chocolate, it's all chocolate that is intended to be celebrated today. You even have permission to sneak a piece or two from the Halloween candy you've purchased for the weekend.
How Is Chocolate Made?
Chocolate comes from the seed of the tropical Theobroma cacao tree. These trees grow best near the equator and thrive on rain, heat, and shade. Each tree bears pods of seeds, which are known as cacao (or cocoa) seeds.
The pods are ripe when they turn bright orange or yellow color. Cacao tree seeds are bitter, so they must be fermented to develop the flavor—the seeds are washed and then fermented for up to nine days. The beans are then dried for two weeks and shipped to international markets.
What Are the Health Benefits of Eating Chocolate?
According to the Mayo Clinic, chocolate has a few health benefits, when consumed in moderation. There is some research that says cocoa can reduce the risk of heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and heart attacks.
"Chocolate and its main ingredient, cocoa, appear to reduce risk factors for heart disease. Flavanols in cocoa beans have antioxidant effects that reduce cell damage implicated in heart disease. Flavanols — more prevalent in dark chocolate than in milk chocolate — may also help lower blood pressure and improve vascular function," says the Mayo Clinic.
Adding more chocolate to your diet can have a counter effect, though. While straight cocoa does have a benefit, most manufactured chocolate also contains sugars, fats, and calories that lead to an increased risk of heart disease. It's best to consume chocolate in moderation.
Are There Different Kinds of Chocolate?
Yes! While chocolate can be found in countless desserts, treats, and snacks, there are four basic kinds of chocolate.
- Unsweetened baking chocolate – cocoa solids and cocoa butter in different proportions
- Cocoa powder – ground cocoa solids left after removing the cocoa butter
- Sweet chocolate – cocoa solids, cocoa butter, or other fat and sugar
- Milk chocolate – sweet chocolate with milk powder or condensed milk
- White chocolate – cocoa butter, sugar, and milk but no cocoa solids
Want to Try Some Chocolate Recipes?
What's your favorite kind of chocolate? Share in the comments below.