Cacao is the main ingredient of one of the most beloved candies in the world: chocolate.
Cacao is a tree that reaches an average height of 6 meters, and is concentrated in the tropical regions of the world, so it is grown mainly in West Africa, Central America, South America and Asia.
According to UNCTAD (United Nations Conference of Trade and Development), the 10 countries with the highest production of cacao in the world are Côte d'Ivoire, Ghana, Indonesia, Nigeria, Cameroon, Brazil, Ecuador, Mexico, Peru and the Dominican Republic.
Cacao has lots of benefits for health; we can highlight its high volume of free radical and antioxidants. Raw cocoa powder contains over 300 different chemical compounds and almost four times the antioxidant power of average dark chocolate. It also contains protein, calcium, carotene, thiamine, riboflavin, magnesium and sulfur. Other benefits are complementary, which directly affect the brain, providing important substances such as anandamide, endorphins, phenylethylamine and serotonin, related to happiness, well-being and good humor.
Cacao in Mexico
The production of cacao in Mexico has been of great importance since prehispanic times. The first to cultivate it were the Olmec in the year 1500 BC, when they ground it with water to prepare a drink that they considered was a gift from the gods that could only be consumed by elite people. Over time, the cacao culture spread to the Mayan and Aztec populations. By then, the cacao bean was already used as currency and a measurement unit.
Cacao was a symbol of abundance that was used at the time of religious rituals dedicated to the gods. Because of this ceremonial and economic importance, the culture of the cacao continued spreading in Mesoamerica, revealing the invigorating and tonic virtues of the seed throughout the world.
Mexico is one of the 10 leading producers of cacao in the world, with about 30 thousand tons per year. The state of Tabasco is the largest producer in the country with 66% of national production, followed by Chiapas, which produces 33%.
Due to its high-quality and aroma, Mexican cacao is considered one of the best in the world. It’s less bitter and has more acidity that depend on the type of this fruit, the terroir and the postharvest processes. In addition, the country is focused on rescuing native cacao, rather than sowing productive clones.
Mexican chocolate is consumed in countries such as Belgium, France and the United States, the latter constituting around 40% of the export of the national cacao.
The cacao tree is a good crop to reforest land since it contributes a large amount of organic matter to the ecosystems and benefits the conservation of the flora and fauna of the soil.
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