Until now chocolate has been known as a guilty pleasure for moments of naughty indulgence. Now, thanks to scientists, a new chocolate that promises to be healthier than ever and just as delicious may be in the making.
A research team at the University of Ghana have been working on a formula to help chocolate retain more of the antioxidants found in cocoa, without compromising its sweet flavour.
A new process in chocolate-making promises to make the sweet treat healthier
The new process aims to keep more of the natural plant nutrients called flavonoids found in raw cocoa powder. Flavanoids work as antioxidants and are thought to be responsible for some of chocolate's health perks related to cardiovascular health and memory support.
The team, lead by professor of food science and technology researchers Emmanuel Ohene Afoakwa, presented their discovery at the American Chemical Society's national meeting in Denver this week.
Traditionally, many of the flavonoids contained in raw cocoa powder are lost in the process of roasting cocoa beans to make chocolate.
The storage of cocoa bean pods will retain more flavanoids, which contain antioxidant properties
Typical chocolate-making sees pods taken from cocoa trees and the cocoa beans extracted, fermented and roasted, while the new method includes the storage of cocoa bean pods for up to 10 days before putting them through the standard fermentation and drying process.
Slow the roasting process down has also resulted in a higher level of antioxidants in the end product, as well as producing an enhanced flavour.
"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 the professor. "We’re trying to find out how some of these practices can be enhanced to help farmers produce beans of higher quality."
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.