This well-loved food, once called the "drink of the gods" by the Maya people, has a rich history as well. Chocolate comes from the seeds of the cacao pod, which grows on the cacao tree. Theobroma cacao is native to the tropical rainforests of Central America, where it has grown for thousands of years.

It was likely cultivated by the Olmecs and Maya peoples about 2,500 years ago. By about 2,000 years ago, the Maya, experienced cacao bean farmers, were fond of grinding them up for a refreshing hot beverage. Aztecs later continued this love of chocolate, and the Spanish then discovered the drink in the 1500s and passed it around the world.

There are three main varieties of cacao bean: Criollo from Latin America, Forastero from Africa, and Trinitario from the Caribbean. Forastero accounts for about 90 % of all cacao beans, with Criollo and Trinitario making up the rest.

One fact is clear for chocolate: the purer and darker the chocolate, the greater your health benefits. Raw chocolate or minimally processed dark chocolate high in cocoa solids is healthier than milk chocolate and white chocolate. Dark chocolate has anywhere from 50 to 90 percent cocoa solids, while milk chocolate is typically 10 to 30 percent. White chocolate is pure cocoa butter and doesn't offer you any health benefits.

So, if you have a craving, go ahead and indulge but aim for dark chocolate if you can. 

 

If you have a topic for Wellness Wednesday, call Lisa Piecki at ext. 7672.