Although several varieties of cacao exist, the forastero variety from West Africa accounts for more than 90% of world production.
The Olmecs, one of the first civilizations of the Americas (1,500 BC to 400 BC) are credited with the first use of cocoa. Calcium supplementation of chocolate: effect on cocoa butter digestibility and blood lipids in humans.
Cocoa contains more than 300 volatile compounds, the most important flavor components being aliphatic esters, polyphenols, aromatic carbonyls, and theobromine, In cocoa, the polyphenols of particular interest are flavanols, a subclass of flavonoids, which are in turn a subclass of polyphenols. Flavanols can be monomeric: in cocoa beans these are mainly (−)-epicatechin and ( )-catechin, dimeric (consisting of 2 units of epicatechin with differing linkages), or polymeric (combinations of monomers and chains of up to 10 units or more have been found). N-acylethanolamines are compounds found in chocolate that are structurally similar to anandamine, which is similar to the cannabinoid responsible for euphoria from cannabis.
These compounds may not exert their effect by binding with the tetrahydrocannabinol receptors, but by inhibiting breakdown of endogenously produced anandamine, thus prolonging a “natural high.” the free radical scavengers that preserve cell membranes, protect DNA, prevent the oxidation of low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol that leads to atherosclerosis, and prevent plaque formation in arterial walls.
Caffeine content should be restricted during pregnancy. Children consuming large amounts of chocolate and caffeinated beverages may exhibit tics or restlessness. Procyanidin content and variation in some commonly consumed foods.
Specially treated cocoa powder, called alkalinized cocoa has improved color, flavor, and dispersability compared with unalkalinized powder.
Cocoa butter, also known as theobroma oil, may have a faint chocolate odor that can be removed following further purification.
The likely mechanisms are antioxidant activity; improvement in endothelial function, vascular function, and insulin sensitivity; as well as attenuation of platelet reactivity and reduction in blood pressure. Review of polyphenols in Theobroma cacao : changes in composition during the manufacture of chocolate and methodology for identification and quantification.
Materials derived from the cacao seeds (beans) include cocoa solid (the nonfat component of cocoa beans that is finely ground into a powder), cocoa butter (the fat component extracted by grinding and pressing the beans), and chocolate (a combination of cocoa solids, cocoa butter, and sugar).