Properties of chocolate

It is a food rich in antioxidants and can help us prevent cardiovascular disease.

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4 February 2019

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Los beneficios del chocolate

Cocoa beans are the raw seeds of the cocoa tree. These seeds were known in Mexico and Central America more than a thousand years before the discovery of America. The original way of preparing these seeds (by making a paste of toasted grains with corn, spiced with pepper and vanilla or cinnamon) had little acceptance in Europe. At first cocoa was a very expensive luxury item but, in the 19th century, the industrial manufacture of chocolate and defatted cocoa powder contributed to its spread, not forgetting that it was the addition of sugar to chocolate that made it so well-adapted to the tastes of the Old Continent.

Chocolate is a preparation based on whole cocoa beans, fragmented or reduced to paste, and sucrose (sugar), with the addition of cocoa butter, natural seasonings, vanillin, and is either moulded or unmoulded.

Types of chocolate

  • Dark

This is the most appreciated chocolate, as it has an intense and persistent perfume, shiny appearance that dissolves in the mouth, leaving a slightly bitter taste. The percentage of cocoa is one of the main characteristics in determining its quality: the best have at least 70%.

  • Milk

A good milk chocolate should give off a vanilla aroma, be crunchy, and dissolve quickly in your mouth.

  • White

This is usually used to prepare mousse, panna cotta and other desserts. It is obtained by mixing cocoa butter, sugar, powdered milk and vanilla.

  • Gianduia

This type was born in Turin and is a chocolate characterised by its brown colour, which is due to the mixture of hazelnuts, cocoa and sugar.

Special chocolates are those containing cream, whole milk or skimmed milk; there are also filled chocolates, or those containing fruits, walnuts or almonds and those that are accompanied by coffee or orange. Melted chocolate is the object of special processing. Chocolates with no added sugar are made only with sugar substitutes (fructose, mannitol, sorbitol and xylitol).

Los beneficios del chocolate

Nutritionals properties

Cocoa is notable in its composition for its content of carbohydrates, proteins and fats, as its main constituents, as well as the presence of vitamins and minerals. Among carbohydrates, the most abundant is starch, while the amount of simple sugars is small. It is a food that contains dietary fibre, with a higher proportion of soluble fibre.


Nutritional Composition of different types of chocolate (per 100 g)



Defatted Cocoa powerd
Chocolate
Milk Chocolate 
White Chocolate 
Soluble Cacao
Energy (Kcal)
255
449 -539
511 -542
529
330 -375
Proteins (g)
23
4,2-7,8
6,1-9,2
8
4-7
Carbohydrates  (g)
16
47-65
54,1-60
58,3
70-78
Starch
13 
3,1
1,1
-
2-8
 Sugar
3
50, 1-60
54,1-56-9
58,3
70-78
Fibre
23
5,9-9
1,8
-
7
Fats (g)
11
29-30,6
30-31,8
30,9
2,5-3,5



Is chocolate fattening?

Until recently, chocolate consumption was almost instinctively related to weight gain, regardless of the variety of chocolate or the amount ingested. However, the latest studies suggest that, like other foods, it can be consumed in moderation.  Due to the amount of antioxidants (the presence of a group of polyphenols - antioxidant substances - called catechols, which are also present in tea), it can contribute to the prevention of cardiovascular diseases.

Chocolate contains theobromine, which, like caffeine, stimulates the central nervous system. Chocolate is able to stimulate the hormone serotonin, providing a feeling of well-being. In moderation, the consumption of chocolate increases the feeling of satiety.

Recipes with chocolate

Pear and Chocoolate Flan

Los beneficios del chocolate

Ingredients

- 150 g dessert chocolate

- 400 ml milk

- 250 g sugar

- 3 eggs

- 3 pears

- 1 cinnamon stick

- Sugar (to caramelise the mould).

Preparation:

- Peel and cook the whole pears in a little water with 50 g sugar and cinnamon until tender.

- Cut one pear into thin slices and the other two into regular-sized pieces.

- Melt the chopped chocolate in the milk and, when it is warm, add the beaten eggs, the rest of the sugar and the pear pieces. 

- Pour this into a long mould, which has been previously caramelised.

- Bake the flan in the oven in a bain-marie until it is set.

- Leave to cool and remove from the mould.

Low-fat Chocolate cake

Los beneficios del chocolate

Ingredients:

- 100 ml of oil

- 150 g of sugar

- 1 pinch of salt

- 125 g of chopped almonds

- 100 ml of milk

- 150 g of skimmed cottage cheese

- 500 g of wheat flour

- 1 small container of yeast

- 2 tablespoons of cocoa powder (defatted)

-2 teaspoons of ground cinnamon

-  ½ tablet of semi-sweet chocolate.

Preparation:

- Preheat the oven to 180 ºC

- Grease the mould (this can be done with alight layer of oil and a slight sprinkle of breadcrumbs). 

- Mix the oil, sugarand salt well for about 3 minutes.

- Gradually add the almonds, milk and cottagecheese.

- Mix the flour with the yeast, cocoa and cinnamon. 

- Add the mixture tothe dough.

Chop the chocolate into thick pieces and add them to the mixture.

- Place the dough in the mould and place it in the oven for approximately 45minutes.