Jump to Main ContentJump to Primary Navigation
Top

Healthy chocolate has arrived, and it's bursting with flavour

ThinkstockPhotos-159125571.jpg

In news that has brought a feel-good glow to Stylist HQ this morning, chocolate is soon to become more nutritious and delicious than ever.

Scientists are working on a formula to help chocolate retain more of the antioxidants found in cocoa, without compromising its sweet flavour. 

Traditionally the prospect of tasty, health-giving chocolate has been a tough alchemy to crack.

Cocoa is bursting with natural plant nutrients called flavonoids, which work as antioxidants to combat damage caused by free radicals. They also have a powerful impact on cardiovascular health and memory

The problem is, many of the flavonoids contained in raw cocoa powder are lost in the process of roasting cocoa beans to make chocolate. And the more processed the chocolate, the more flavanols are lost. And since cocoa naturally has a strong, pungent flavour, chocolate production tends to go through stages of fermentation, alkalizing and roasting to temper this taste.

But now, a research team at the University of Ghana claims to have solved the conundrum, by creating nutritious chocolate with lots of antioxidants and a sweet flavour. 

Chocolate

Doctor Emmanuel Ohene Afoakwa, a professor of food science and technology at the university, claims his team have worked out a new process of creating chocolate.

Presenting the results at a meeting of the American Chemical Society in Denver this week, he said he and his researchers stored the cocoa bean pods before their fermenting and roasting process, in order to retain some of the lost nutrients.

In typical chocolate-making, pods are first taken from cocoa trees and the cocoa beans are extracted, fermented and roasted.

But in this new method, known as "pulp preconditioning", scientists stored the cocoa bean pods for up to 10 days before putting them through the standard fermentation and drying process.

They found that the longer the cocoa pods were stored for before roasting, the more antioxidants they contained afterwards. 

In addition, the research team decided to slow the roasting process down, by roasting the beans at 242 degrees Fahrenheit for 45 minutes (instead of the usual 248-266 degrees Fahrenheit for 10 to 20 minutes). They found that this too resulted in a higher level of antioxidants in the end product, as well as producing an enhanced flavour.

Chocolate

"I have been working on cocoa for some time, and my interest is on creating techniques that can enhance the flavour and the quality of the beans," said Afoakwa. "We’re trying to find out how some of these practices can be enhanced to help farmers produce beans of higher quality."

He suggested that the process of pulp reconditioning probably enabled the sweet pulp that surrounds the beans to enter the pods before the fermentation process.

 "This aided the fermentation processes and enhanced antioxidant capacity of the beans, as well as the flavour," he said. 

The team will now conduct further tests on how to retain higher antioxidant levels but once finalised, their findings may have a significant impact on the chocolate market. 

"We believe there will be a high benefit for confectionary industry,"  Afoakwa said.

Experts currently recommend making the most of the health benefits of chocolate by eating approximately 30g to 60g of high quality, dark chocolate (with a cocoa content of 70% or higher) per day

But this could change with the emergence of a more nutritious brand of chocolate. Watch this space!

Photos: ThinkStock

Related

Tarte-Tartin.jpg

Show-stopping desserts from the inventor of the Cronut

4.jpg

The greatest collection of chocolate recipes

168848935.jpg

Guilty pleasure food and drink that may actually be good for you

choc.jpg

Introducing the new generation of tantalizing food blogs

Butternut-Squash-and-Barley-Salad1.jpg

Natural mood-boosting recipes to help ease stress and cheer you up

flake ad.jpg

The secrets behind advertising chocolate to women

Comments

Latest...

Feed your inner Morticia Addams at these gothic London eateries

And not a unicorn in sight

by The Stylist web team
20 Jul 2017

Designer lattes are the new coffee trend taking over Instagram

Meet the new drink du jour

by The Stylist web team
20 Jul 2017

Bon Appétit! 15 of the best French eateries across the UK

Think quick croissants, boozy brunches and hearty Gallic meals

by Nicola Colyer
14 Jul 2017

Haagen-Dazs has launched a boozy ice-cream collection

Vodka key lime pie ice cream, anyone?

by Jasmine Andersson
14 Jul 2017

Move over, gin: white port and tonic is the drink of the moment

Anyone for a swift P&T?

by Anna Brech
12 Jul 2017

Research discovers your coffee addiction has a major health benefit

“If you're not a coffee drinker, then you need to consider if you should start”

by Amy Swales
11 Jul 2017

Rejoice! A free rooftop gin bar is coming to London this summer

With herbal cocktails and views of the River Thames. Oh, happy days...

by Anna Brech
07 Jul 2017

London restaurant gives diners Instagram kits to take better photos

Upcycle your #foodporn game

by Anna Brech
05 Jul 2017

There’s a scientific reason why we should all eat more chocolate

Thank us later

by Moya Crockett
03 Jul 2017

Behold a new type of ice cream making waves on Instagram

Beautiful, vegan... and galactic

by Anna Brech
30 Jun 2017