Chocolate Facts, History, Types & Health Benefits

Do you know your chocolate consumption can make you a candidate for the next Nobel Prize Award?


In the present world of taste, we all are fond of eating chocolate in various forms. This unique word CHO-CO-LATE itself has a pleasant feeling. No doubt, it is the world’s most popular sweet treat. As soon as we hear the word chocolate our mouth gets watery. It is more fun to eat the word chocolate than to hear it.

Whether it’s about a gift or any celebration chocolate is always on the top of the list. It is always available to serve its lovers in the form of snacks. Everyone likes it. Chocolate is no doubt a great choice to turn someone’s anger into happiness.

It is also available as a drink but enjoyed more like a confection, in desserts and in baked items.

And for its improvement of cognitive ability even make you the next Nobel Prize laureate. Who’s up for this challenge?

Before going into deep knowledge of the mind and it works, let us learn more about how this amazing sweet treat came about.

What is hidden inside this versatile word Chocolate?

broken Chocolate

The word chocolate is originally derived from the Aztec word “Xocoatl” meaning a bitter liquor derived from cocoa beans. The Latin name for this tree is ‘Theobroma cacao’. So, we can define it as:

“Product obtained by grounding and roasting cocoa beans from a cacao tree”. 

The beans are seedlings of this tree. They are produced in a pod-like fruit covered with juicy pulp.

This product can be designed in the form of liquid, paste or a bar. It can be used as a flavoring ingredient to produce innovative and yummy products.


Many historians believed that chocolate could be 2000 years old but new research has shown that its discovery could be even older. It is first supposed to be used in Olmec sites of Mexico in the 19th century BC. Most people at that time used chocolates to make beverages.

These beans have magical, divine and unique properties making it suitable for use in many rituals of joy and sorrow.

In the past, chocolate was used as a fashionable drink believed to be nutritious and tasty. Afterwards some experts transformed these beans into powder form to innovate delicious products.

Olmecs transferred their knowledge of cocoa beans to Central America. They used cacao not only to make drinks but also revolutionized it in unique forms.

From America the popularity of these beans spread to Europe particularly in Spain. In the late 1500’s it was loved by Spanish people. 

With the passage of time, it has become the world’s most famous sweet snack.

Study of Chocolate

People studying about chocolate are called chocolatiers. They have to understand the physical and chemical aspects of cocoa beans to create chocolate and confections.


Chocolate making process is a much more interesting and pleasant procedure. The taste of these bitter beans enhances like a wonder when handled with full expertise.

The production process includes various steps which are as follows:

  1. Selection and harvesting of cocoa beans

Farmers select the healthy pods from the tree and scoop out the beans from the flower. They clean the beans to remove any extraneous material.

  1. Fermentation

Fermentation is carried to bring out the best taste and aroma of the beans.

  1. Drying

The beans are then dried, and further cleaning is carried out.

  1. Transportation

After drying and cleaning the beans are then transported to industry where the innovative work of the experts starts.

  1. Roasting

To make the tasty and aromatic chocolates the beans are roasted in large rotary cylinders. Their moisture content drops, and color starts to change in rich brown beans.

Roasting is one of the critical steps in chocolate making as it plays a crucial role in flavor and aromatic profile of the chocolate.

  1. Crushing

Roasted beans are crushed to get cocoa liquor. It is an unsweetened chocolate or chocolate mass and a base for all types of chocolate.

 This paste is then treated under high pressure to separate the cocoa solids and cocoa butter.

Cocoa butter is very important to design perfect chocolate. It gives a fine, shiny and attractive glazy structure to chocolate.

  1. Mixing

The cocoa liquor is mixed with sugar and other ingredients in the right proportions to design various chocolates.

  1. Molding

The liquid product is then transferred to molds to get it in the shape of bars or blocks.

  1. Conching

“It is crushing the chocolate very finely by keeping it warm to remove the roughness of chocolate”.

It is carried out by heavy rollers for several hours to several days.

  1. Tempering 

It is heating, shaking and then cooling the chocolate several times to get the finest product.

Quality of chocolate

Good chocolates start with good cocoa beans. But 90% of the world’s chocolates are made from low quality cocoa beans. 

To select a chocolate from an enormous variety of bars is critical. The main criteria in this regard are the number of cocoa solids. Truly perfect chocolate must have 70% cocoa solids. A perfect chocolate is the one that have the following qualities:

  •  It should be clean and shiny brown in color
  • It should be crispy and smooth without lumps
  • It should have a sharp sound when broken
  • It must not crumble upon biting
  • It should melt on tongue like butter
  • It should not be greasy or sticky at room temperature

Types of chocolate

Chocolate is a broad term having various types in different forms. It could be in liquid form, solid form, powder form or a chocolate paste. In terms of shape, it could be in blocks, bars, balls form.

In taste it could be sweet, sour, bitter, crunchy, caramel, velvety etc.

The 4 main types of chocolate-based on cocoa butter, sugar and cocoa solids proportions are:

  1. White chocolate

“Type of chocolate produced by combination of sugar, milk and cocoa butter without cocoa solids is called white chocolate”.

It contains 20% cocoa butter, 14% milk and not more than 55% sugar.

  • It has pale ivory color
  • It gives sweet vanilla aroma
  • It remains solid at room temperature
  • It must have a creamy texture
  • It has a shelf life of 4 months
  1. Milky chocolate

“Chocolate made by combining chocolate liquor (solids+butter) with sugar and milk is called milky chocolate”.

  • It contains 10% liquor and 12% milk
  • It is most popular type of chocolate
  • It has a pleasant creamy brown color
  • It gives a caramelized chocolate aroma
  • It is soft and shiny in texture
  • It has a shelf life of 16 months
  1. Dark chocolate

It is also known as plain chocolate. 

“It is a type of chocolate containing a higher percentage of cocoa solids (70% -100%)”.

  • It is semisweet chocolate having blackish color
  • High quality of this chocolate must not contain dairy and should be vegan free
  • It is very popular among health-conscious consumers
  • It is known as a heart healthy antioxidant rich treat
  • It has a shelf life of 20 months
  1. Ruby chocolate

In 2017, a Belgian chocolate maker discovered a new type of chocolate called Ruby chocolate.

“It is a type of chocolate prepared from a special type of cocoa beans called Ruby cocoa beans”.

  • It has a distinct red color
  • It has an intense fruity and sour flavor
  • It has a shelf life of 12 months

Health benefits of chocolate

Despite having added sugar, there are numerous health benefits associated with chocolate. Of course, you need to take it in the optimum amount; it could backfire if you indulge.

  1. Contains high level of antioxidants

Chocolate is believed to have certain types of antioxidants. It helps to lower the damage to cells caused by external compounds entering in the body.

  1. Lower cholesterol level

Chocolates having some plant sterols are good to lower bad cholesterol and improve the good cholesterol levels of the body and thus normalizing the blood pressure. It is healthy for maintaining cardiac health.

  1. Improve blood flow

 Caffeine in chocolate is believed to have a direct effect on blood flow. It improves the blood flow in vessels of the body.

  1.  Cognitive function

Chocolate is healthy for brain health if taken in the proper amount on a daily or weekly basis. It helps to reduce the memory loss in elderly people.

  1.  Protect skin from harsh sun radiations

Flavonoids compounds in chocolate are good for protection of skin from harsh sun radiations. It decreases the production of free radicals and lowers the formation of cancer cells.

  1. Fetal health

Eating a chocolate every day in a guided amount is proven to be helpful in fetal growth and development in pregnant women.

  1. Minerals provision

Dark chocolate is known to have certain minerals like zinc, magnesium, phosphorus and potassium and is good for healthy bone and muscular development.

Health risks of chocolate

Because of added sugar and fat, more intake of chocolate can cause obesity, high blood pressure and diabetes.

Eating more than a moderate amount can cause caffeine-related problems like nervousness, increased urination, sleeplessness, headache and constipation.

It is okay to eat chocolate in moderation even on a daily basis. Dark chocolate is no doubt the much appreciated type in this regard because of its negligible sugar and fat content.

Facts about chocolate

As chocolate is a tasty and innovative product there are some interesting facts about this sweet confection:

  1. It took almost 8 years to produce recipe of milk chocolate
  2. Hot chocolate is known as the first chocolate treat
  3. Each cacao tree produce approximately 2500 beans 
  4. Chocolate is directly related to happiness because it releases amino acids that are linked to produce the feeling of happiness by brain
  5. In Aztec time cocoa beans were used as currency and were considered more valuable than gold
  6. In World War 2, chocolate was provided as payment instead of money to soldiers
  7. Last but not least a frequently asked question, white chocolate is not considered as a type of chocolate by majority of the food experts because it does not contain cocoa solids 

Food pairings with chocolate

Chocolate is believed to be on the top of the versatility contest. It is no doubt a versatile snack to pair with  various foods to innovate a variety of the products. It goes perfect with a wide variety of fruits, nuts, liquids, breads, honey, caramel and many more.

Chocolate has a place in both sweet and savory dishes. It goes perfectly well even with the beverages. The aroma and flavor of many foods enhance like magic when they are paired with the right type of chocolate.

Threats to chocolate

Despite having a major importance world wide, chocolate production is facing some threats. If they are not controlled properly the chocolate industry will face a decline in terms of production and finance. Some of these threats are as follows:

  1. Climate change

Climate change is a major issue in this regard as it is affecting the health and production of cacao trees. Trees not getting the proper temperature and rainfall are getting weak for production. The quality of cocoa beans is also affected by climate falls. High temperature and more evaporation are adversely affecting the health of trees.

  1. Deforestation

Deforestation is also an important threat to cocoa decline. As the world population is increasing day by day the forests are cutting down. Deforestation of cacao trees is causing the decline in cocoa production

  1. Farmers livelihoods

As the benefits for the farmers working for cocoa production are not sustainable, only a few young people want to stay in this business. The average age of the cacao farmer is 50.

  1. Pest and disease attack

It is also the main threat to cocoa. Swollen shoot virus is adversely affecting the crop and causing the production rate less than required rate.

What does the research say about chocolate?

Researches have shown that consuming chocolate at least once per week can:

  • Improve cognitive functioning
  • Lower the risk of stroke by 50%
  • Reduce risk of heart attack by 30%
  • Improve the mood lifting chemicals in brain
  • Taking dark chocolate in moderation can provide various benefits in form of minerals and necessary calories

Frequently asked questions about chocolate

Q – Where did the chocolate originate?

Chocolate’s history began in ancient Mexico. First cacao plants were cultivated there.

Q – What chemicals are in chocolate?

  • Theobromine is an alkaloid compound in chocolate. Toxicity of chocolate is related to this chemical.
  • Anandamide which is also found in the brain. Chocolate prolongs the working of the brain due to this chemical.
  •  Phenylethylamine is present in chocolate and is known to have positive effects on mood.
  • Sugar is both natural and artificial. Amount of synthetic sugar is related to the nutrition of the resulting chocolate product. Too much sugar in any chocolate is not good for physical health.

Q – When was cocoa powder invented?

In 1828, a Dutch chemist named Coenraad Johannes treated cacao beans with alkaline salts to make a powder form of chocolate.

Q – Who first added sugar to chocolate?

In 1847, British chocolatier J.S. Fry and sons created a bar of chocolate by mixing sugar, chocolate liquor and cocoa butter.

Q – Is white chocolate real chocolate?

Technically not, because it does not contain cocoa solids and does not really taste like chocolate. But there are many controversies about white chocolate and many experts believe it to be a type of chocolate because it’s ingredients are obtained from cocoa beans.


From all the above discussion it is concluded that chocolate as a food or a sweet snack is good and healthy for us if taken in moderation. Dark chocolate is top of the list in the chocolate category from a nutritional point of view because of low sugar and calories.

Combinations can be made with different foods like fruits, nuts, breads and many more to get a healthy chocolate snack. 

Photo of author
Hi, Nelson here... is the lead reviewer here at Cocoaness. A cocoa enthusiast and an ‘honest’ reviewer. I know cocoa more like you know your favorite fruit. I’m a farmer by birth because of my family’s vast cocoa farm in Ghana. In fact, I will be a chocolatier in the near future.