Quality organic chocolate, derived from cacao beans, can stimulate the senses and is a rich source of flavonoids and antioxidants.
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Chocolate Goji Treats. Certified Organic. A synergistically balanced fusion of raw exotic ancient superfoods and special… View details
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Vivani organic chocolate - Finest organically grown ingredients, the best recipes, proficiency and skill.
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Cacao (Theobroma cacao) is a small evergreen tree native to the deep tropical region of the Americas and Mexico. It is now cultivated throughout the tropics.
The earliest record of cacao dates back to the ancient Mayan civilization over 2,600 years ago. The Aztecs associated chocolate with Xochiquetzal, the goddess of fertility.
Varieties of Cocoa Beans
The three main varieties of cacao beans used in chocolate are Foraster, Criollo and Trinitario.
- Forastero is the most common variety and is native to the Amazon basin. The majority of the African cocoa crop comes entirely from the Forastero variety
- Criollo, the rarest and hence the most expensive of all cocoa, is native to Central America, the Caribbean islands and the north of South America. It accounts for less than 5% of total annual world production
- Trinitario is a natural hybrid of the Criollo and Forastero varieties. It originated in Trinidad after an introduction of the Forastero crossbred with the local Criollo crop. These cocoas exhibit a wide and diverse range of flavours, depending on the subtle differences in the crossbred hybrids.
Approximately two-thirds of the entire world's cocoa is produced in Western Africa, with Cote d'Ivoire accounting for half of that total.
Types of Chocolate
The most common types of commercial chocolate are:
- Dark chocolate - made from sugar, cocoa butter, cocoa liquor, (and sometimes vanilla)
- Milk chocolate - made from sugar, cocoa butter, cocoa liquor, milk or milk powder, and vanilla
- White chocolate - made from sugar, cocoa butter, milk or milk powder, and vanilla.
Potential Health Benefits
Chocolate, particularly dark chocolate with its high cocoa content, is a rich source of the flavonoids, epicatechin and gallic acid, which are thought to possess cardio-protective properties. Cocoa also contains antioxidants, which help protect against LDL oxidation.
Recent studies indicate that cocoa powder, dark chocolate and milk chocolate have higher Oxygen Radical Absorption Capacity (ORAC) values than many common foods, such as prunes and blueberries. ORAC values measure the antioxidant levels of a substance.
Chocolate intake has been linked with a release of serotonin in the brain, which is thought to produce feelings of pleasure, and it also triggers a dopamine release in the brain's reinforcement systems.
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