The scientists are trying to develop a chocolate that’s more nutritious and has a higher content of antioxidants.
Chocolate is also known for its health benefits, not only for its delicious taste. Chocolate has been known to reduce the blood pressure, it can lower the bad cholesterol level and it can help reduce the risk of stroke.
Before being turned into chocolate, cocoa goes through a complex process. Firstly, the pods are cut down from cocoa trees, split open and then the cocoa beans are removed from the pods. The beans are either purple or white in their natural state.
The beans then go through the process of fermentation inside banana-lined basked for several days. Then, they are left to dry in the sun.
The next step is roasting the beans, which will bring out the cocoa, chocolatey flavor.
During the roasting process, some of the healthy antioxidants (polyphenols) are destroyed. That’s why the scientists wanted to find a way to keep as many antioxidants as possible, while enhancing the chocolate’s flavor.
Emmanuel Ohene Afoakwa, a researcher at the University of Ghana and one of the scientists involved in the experiment, said that he wanted to see what would happen if they added a pod-storage step right before the fermentation process of the beans started. The researchers wanted to see if the polyphenols would be affected by that.
According to Afoakwa, this is not how cocoa beans are traditionally handled, so that’s why their research is completely different. The scientist said that no one really knows how roasting the cocoa beans affects the content of polyphenols.
The experiment involved dividing 300 pods into 4 groups; the pods were either not stored or stored for 3, 7 or 10 days before they were processed.
The scientists said that storing the pods for 7 days resulted in the highest content of antioxidants.
Also, the researchers discovered that by roasting the beans at 116 degrees Celsius for 45 minutes, instead of the traditional way of roasting them, which is 10-20 minutes at a temperature of 120-130 degrees Celsius, the beans retained more antioxidants.
Image Source: 12wbt
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