Since ancient times cocoa was considered as a valuable food product. According to Montezuma, the Aztec emperot, it was the drink of the warriors and the social elite, and it had sacred and solemn features. Linne, popular Swedish botanist, named this herb Theobroma cacao L, and the word ‘theobroma’ means ‘food of gods.’
Cocoa grows on trees with an average height of 4-8 meters and it is part of the evergreen plant family Sterculiaceae. It originated in the tropical areas in South America, and the fruits are mostly used in the production of cocoa powder and chocolate.
Cocoa fruits are actually egg-shaped pods that weigh an average 500g and yield 30 cm. Each pod contains 20-60 beans.
The pulp is used in the production of juices, and the beans are used as a raw material in the production process of cocoa powder and butter (cocoa beans contain up to 50% fat). Cocoa also contains theobromine, an alkaloid similar to caffeine.
In its wild form, cocoa today grows in the foothills of the Andes, at an altitude of 200-400 meters, in the Amazon area and near the Orinoco river. Christopher Columbus was the first European that found cocoa, who called it ‘strange-looking hazelnut’.
As a drink, cocoa was first brought to Europe in 1519.
Health Benefits of Cocoa
Raw cocoa (beans, chunk or powder) is considered to be one of the most nutritional foods in the world, thanks to its nutritional properties.
For that reason cocoa is also part of the group of superfoods.
- protects the body from free radicals
- reduces stress and depression
- protect against cardiovascular diseases
- protects against different types of cancer
- It is an excellent source of iron
- regulates blood sugar and cholesterol
- promotes better memory and concentration
- reduces the risk of heart attack
- regulates the blood pressure
Cocoa contains over 300 chemicals with positive effects on the health. Studies have shown that cocoa is an extremely rich source of antioxidants that are responsible for the overall health. Antioxidants protect the organism from different diseases and free radicals that are the main cause of premature aging.