|Chocolate contains antioxidants, increases the brain serotonin, and making a person more intelligent / Photo by Getty Images|
One of the most popular sweets in the world is chocolate. This sweet treat is known to have a wide selection of shapes and kinds, with several colors and flavors. The World Cocoa Foundation states that all over the world, especially in Europe and America, people partake of more than 3 million tons of cocoa beans yearly.
Chocolate is noted to have many health benefits, such as containing antioxidants and the increase of the brain’s “feel-good” chemicals, serotonin. Recently, studies have proven that chocolate can also make a person more intelligent.
Where Does Chocolate Come From?
Currently, Brazil, Ghana, Nigeria, Côte d'Ivoire and Indonesia are responsible for producing 79% of cacao in the world, says Live Science. However, Theobroma cacao, a tropical tree whose fruit is used in the preparation of chocolate, used to only be found in the Amazon and Orinoco river basins located in South America. Translated in Greek, the name of the tree means “food for the gods.”
With the rising fame of chocolate, plantations soon began to spread. Now, there are plantations of cacao trees in regions like West Africa and Southeast Asia.
Ingredients of Chocolate
According to the National Confectioners Association, chocolate consists of chocolate liquor, cocoa butter, sugar, lecithin (usually made from soy and is the one used to merge the ingredients of chocolate together) and vanilla or other flavorings. In addition, it may also have milk, nuts, and fruits if it is a specialty chocolate.
How is Chocolate Made?
In order to make chocolate, the farmers first break the pods open. Then, they remove the seeds dry them and ferment them. Afterwards, the seeds are distributed worldwide to factories where they are examined and cleaned. Once this is done, the manufacturers roast and grind them until they turn into chocolate liquor. It then goes through more procedures such as rolling, combining it with sugar and various ingredients and heating. When it has been cooled, it finally becomes edible, delicious chocolate.
How Chocolate Makes Someone Smarter
Spoon University states that eating chocolate can help improve the blood circulation in the brain, which results in the production of more red blood cells. These red blood cells aid in the transportation of more oxygen and nutrients to the brain. Having more oxygen and nutrients in the brain boosts its function.
In addition, since chocolate has traces of caffeine and theobromine, it can also lessen a person’s exhaustion and improve brain activity.
One study which proves this was conducted by U.S. researchers, it has been discovered that “regular intake of cocoa flavanols may have a beneficial effect to cognitive function.” To put it simply, their research suggests that chocolate may help enhance how the brain works.
It was also shown in their study, which had a thousand participants, that chocolate can help improve how people carried out their daily tasks. For instance, chocolate intake could aid a person in recalling their shopping list or someone’s phone number or help them multitask better.
|Regular intake of cocoa flavanols can help people improved their daily task and even multitask better / Photo by Getty Images|
The participants were assessed in six areas of the brain which included working memory, scanning and tracking, ability to remember spoken information, visual-spatial memory and organization, abstract reasoning and a mini-mental state exam. After going through the mentioned tests, it was shown that higher results of the tests ( with the exception of verbal memory) were associated with the regular consumption of chocolate.
In another research published in the New England Journal of Medicine, it is proven that a country’s chocolate intake was related to the number of Nobel prize winners it produced. The country with the most chocolate consumption and with the most Nobel laureates is Switzerland. Sweden comes in second, followed by Denmark which comes in third. Dr. Franz Messerli, the author of the study, says that for a country to be able to generate more than just a single Nobel Prize winner, they should increase their cocoa consumption every year by 275 million pounds.
Among the wide selection of the types of chocolate, dark chocolate is recognized as the most beneficial to one’s physical and mental health. This is because it is the most natural state of cocoa as well as its low sugar and milk content. Chocolate that contains 70% to 80% of cocoa is said to be the most healthy kind.
Although there are researches which provide proof that it may improve brain function, Harvard Medical School states that they are not conclusive pieces of evidence. Dr. Howard Sesso, an associate professor of preventive medicine at a Harvard-affiliated hospital, declares that merely suggesting that people eat dark chocolate to enhance their health is deceptive. This is because chocolate products contain large measures of fat, sugar, and calories. People are advised to be careful with consuming chocolate as it can lead to weight gain and increase in calories. The recommended intake is a few times a week, which should be eaten together with a balanced diet.