The fact that so many people love chocolate shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone because its unique taste and texture makes it easy to enjoy. Really, what’s not to like about this sumptuous treat? For many people, when they think of cocoa, there’s a big chance that the first product that pops into their head is chocolate.
Chocolates, the world’s most popular sweet treat, are made from roasted cocoa pods, and can be processed into liquid, paste, or solid forms. It may be used as an additional flavor in other foods, or be consumed as is, to enjoy its delicious taste, whole, and untampered. There are different materials that can be used to package these treats, but before we explore those, let’s quickly go over the types of chocolates that exist today, and some of the health benefits of consuming these dark, tasty treats.
Types of Chocolates
While there are several types of chocolates, they can all be classified into these four groups:
- White: It’s easy to identify white chocolates because of their ivory or cream color. This type is made by combining cocoa butter, sugar, vanilla, milk, and lecithin (an emulsifier). The combination of these ingredients produces the sweet vanilla aroma that white chocolates are known for. High quality ones have a sweet taste, and a soft, creamy texture. Click here to learn more about lecithin.
Whites do not have that chocolatey taste many people love and expect from chocolates because it doesn’t contain cocoa solids, the component in chocolate that is responsible for its taste and dark color. According to the FDA, white chocolates must have at least 14% milk and 20% cocoa butter, and sugar content must not exceed 55%.
- Dark: This type is made from two main ingredients which are chocolate liquor, and sugar; occasionally, small amounts of lecithin, and vanilla are added to the mixture. While this variety usually contains up to 50% chocolate liquor, the FDA says this composition must never be less than 15%. High quality ones do not contain any added dairy and so, may be a great option for vegans.
- Milk: This is arguably the most popular type of chocolate because of its sweet flavor, and creamy texture. It has a light brown color and is made by mixing chocolate liquor with milk, and sugar. Its smoothness may also be enhanced by adding an emulsifier to the mix. The FDA approves of milk chocolates that contain a minimum of 10% chocolate liquor and 12% milk.
- Unsweetened: This is pure chocolate liquor and is also referred to as baking or bitter chocolate. It is unadulterated and as a result, has that strong, raw, chocolate flavor. It is used in making other consumables that have sugar, milk, and other ingredients added.
Health Benefits of Chocolates
In the world today, most people eat chocolates because of its pleasant taste, and how good it makes you feel as you bite into it. But, unknown to many consumers, chocolates have more to offer to us than just a good feeling and a desirable taste. Although this sweet treat has been associated with several health issues, it has a few health benefits as well that we often overlook.
The following are some of the not-so-popular health benefits that consumers of this cocoa product stand to enjoy:
- Cholesterol: One study suggests that consuming chocolate might help in reducing “bad cholesterol” levels, also known as low-density lipoprotein (LDL). The researchers sought to find out if chocolate treats containing cocoa flavanols (CF) and plant sterols (PS) affected cholesterol levels. At the end of their research, they concluded that regular consumption of chocolates that contained CF and PS may help improve cardiovascular health since they lower cholesterol and improve blood pressure. Visit https://flavanaturals.com/flavanol-benefits/#:~ to learn more about cocoa flavanols.
- Cognitive Function: According to some Harvard Medical School scientists, older people can reduce memory decline by drinking two cups of hot chocolate every day. The scientists discovered that this treat aided an improvement in blood flow to certain parts of the brain where its was needed. Also, in 2016, another study was published in the journal- Appetite, and it reveals that eating these cocoa bars at least once a week could improve cognitive function.
- Stroke: A group of Canadian scientists that carried out a study involving 44,489 people, discovered that individuals who ate at least one serving of the treat a week were less likely to suffer stroke by 22% more than those who didn’t. Also, those who consumed up to two ounces a week were less likely to die from this same ailment by 46%.
Additionally, in 2015, a study was published in Heart, a journal. This study examined the effect of diet on the health of 25,000 individuals, both men and woman, in the long-term. The study suggests that a daily consumption of about 100g of chocolate may be responsible for a reduced risk of stroke and heart disease.
Types of Chocolate Packaging Materials
Getting chocolate bar packaging right is as important as making the chocolate bars right. The shelf life of these sweets is often influenced by the type of packaging material, and the packaging style itself. The most common types of chocolate packaging materials are:
- Polyvinyl chloride (PVC)
- Polyethylene (PE)
- Low-density polyethylene (LPDE)
- Polyethylene terephthalate (PET)
The type of material or packaging style used for chocolates may differ based on the process employed in making the sweet. Some sweet bars require a specific temperature to maintain their shape, taste, and flavor. Manufacturers put all of these into consideration before deciding which material is most suitable for their product.