April 24, 2004
I recently read a piece that said that a flavanoid named epicatechine was a major reason cocoa was healthy, but that it ususally was mainly removed by the processing. Any one who known whether this implies that epicatechine goes away in the conching, or "only" in dutching - as the first is done by everyone, the last mainly by big evils...
My name is Polarbear and I am a chocoholic...
I don't know if you've seen this, but it's an interesting piece if not:
From the (admittedly few) food scientists that I've talked to, my impression is that dutching is certainly an issue with respect to maintaining the various volatiles, including antioxiddants. I've also heard that roast time/temp can have an impact, but I'm certainly no expert on either front...
September 30, 2004
Epicatechin is in a class of flavanols, or antioxidants. Cacao, in it's natural form, has up to 70% of this type of material (not all epicatechin, but antioxidants in general - there's many of them - catechin, quercitin, etc). There are many steps along the way that destroy antioxidants - the very first of which is the fermentation step, which releases an enyzme called polyphenol oxidase, that breaks down the antioxidants to much lower levels. Further on, any time you expose the product to hot water, lots of oxygen, or excessive heat, you're further degrading the antioxidants.
April 24, 2004
Well if you really want some chocolate high in anti-oxidants and you aren't averse to eating things that don't taste nearly as good as some of the bars people talk about on seventypercent, then you could always stock up on the Mars ChocoVia product.
They have one that is not a snack bar, but is actually a box of dark chocolate bars. As I understand it, they have spent considerable money, and a number of years, trying to figure out how to process cacao to minimize the loss of the anti-oxidants and provide consistent anti-oxidant levels in their products.
I don't have any scientific data on what difference there is between their product and other dark chocolate, but you might find something on-line.
Actually, while searching around I found some interesing things, but the information is all provided by Mars, so it is anyone's guess about how much is marketing and how much is reality. The last link is unrelated to the current topic, but I found it interesting:
Also, as Oz_Choc, and perhaps Sebastian, have pointed out before, Forastero cacao has higher anti-oxidant levels than other cacao and you will notice that chocolate higher in anti-oxidants will be slightly (or even vastly) more bitter and astringent than something like a Porcelana bar.
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