Researchers from the University of Ghana have discovered a way to make healthier chocolate. The scientists stated that storing cocoa pods for a longer period and roasting them at lower temperatures produces more antioxidants and a sweeter chocolate.
According to Patrick Fields, a biology professor at Olivet College, the findings should be great news to chocolate lovers.
More studies will be needed to find a “healthy” chocolate recipe. “We’re shifting toward a preference of darker chocolate and away from the milk chocolates, but calories are still calories and cocoa is about 45 to 55 percent cocoa butter, which is still fat,” said Fields.
Before becoming a candy bar, cocoa undergoes several steps. Chocolate workers cut down the pods from cocoa trees. The pods are then open to remove the purple or white cocoa beans. Those are fermented in baskets made from banana line for several days and then let to dry in the sun.The next step is roasting, which brings out the flavor, but during the process some of the healthful antioxidants called polyphenols are lost. The researchers apparently discovered a way to retain as much of the good flavors as possible.
Emmanuel Ohene Afoakwa, who worked on the study, explained that a new pod-storage step was added to the process, and this proved to be very beneficial for the polyphenol content. “This is not traditionally done”, he said, adding: “This is what makes our research fundamentally different. It’s also not known how roasting affects polyphenol content.”
His team divided 300 pods into four groups. Some were not stored at all, while others spent three, seven or 10 days in storage before processing. After each period passed, fermentation and drying were done following the usual methods. The researches discovered that the seven-day storage will bring he highest antioxidant activity after roasting.
The current roasting process lasts 10 to 20 minutes at 246-268 degrees Fahrenheit. Afoakwa and his colleagues increased the period to 45 minutes and decreased the temperature to 242 degrees Fahrenheit, which increased the antioxidant activity.
The beans which were stored for a week and then roasted for 45 minutes had more polyphenols and higher antioxidant activity than beans that were not stored.\
“This aided the fermentation processes and enhanced antioxidant capacity of the beans, as well as the flavor,” he said.
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