An [url="http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/main.jhtml?xml=/news/2006/04/10/nchoc10.xml&sSheet=/news/2006/04/10/ixhome.html"]article in the UK Telegraph[/url] reports that:
"Heart patients at a leading hospital will be treated with chocolate if a revolutionary experiment is given approval ... The chocolate itself must be of good quality and contain at least 85 per cent cocoa ... but even among dark chocolates there is considerable variation in the level of flavonoids"
(Remember: Flavonoids = Anthocyanins/Catechins = Purple/Astringent = Forastero)
March 17, 2005
Now, that's a quite interesting, I long to see some research on flavonols. So far I could not find any comparative studies on flavonol content of Criollo vs Forastero or Trinitario beans. And bearing in mind defference in processing policies, imagine wast results. And I still would like to see some research figures before I'd commit to assumtion that more astrigent taste means more flavonols.
I'd presume that the least the producer "interferes" with cocoa - fermentation, heat, pressure will invalidate health benefits of flavonols, isn't it? - the better. Following this trail someone health-conscious will end up with preference for raw cocoa nibs ( but again, what kind?).
The research is out there.
For starters, try [url="http://guiltinanlab.cas.psu.edu/Publications/Cocoa/Melisthesis.pdf"]Color as an indicator of flavonol content in the fresh seeds of Theobroma cacao[/url], and [url="http://geb.uni-giessen.de/geb/volltexte/2005/2239/pdf/WollgastJan-2005-06-10.pdf"]The contents and effects of polyphenols in chocolate[/url].
The most foolproof sensory indicator of the presence of flavonols in cocoa is the purple colour expressed by anthocyanins. (Anthocyanins are flavonols which produce blue and purple pigments in plant tissues). While anthocyanins are not the only flavonols in cocoa, their presence (expressed by purpleness) is closely correlated with the presence of other antioxidants, such as catechins (which are characterised by their astringency).
For anybody in the forum who's not aware of this fact, fresh Criollo beans can be recognized by their white to pale pink colour, while fresh Forasteros are bright to dark purple. [url="http://www.montosogardens.com/theobroma_cacao_trinitario_criollo_1_small.jpg"]Montoso Gardens' website[/url] has a good series of photos illustrating this point.
It's important to realise that flavonols have similar protective properties in plants as they do in humans. In other words, flavonols are produced by plants in order to protect their cells against various kinds of damage. Hence, the very REASON that Criollo trees are so susceptible to damage by insects and fungal diseases is because they produce relatively few flavonols ... which is why they don't taste bitter or astringent ... and which is why white porcelana beans are so rare.
March 17, 2005
March 17, 2005
Glad to be of assistance [;)]
You asked what my regular eating chocolate is ... Well, I live in a rural area, where the only chocolate available for about 150kms is either Cadbury Dairy Milk, or Nestle Choc Bits. So, I prefer to stick with my supply of Forastero beans imported from Vanuatu - augmented by my own experiments in chocolate making.
April 29, 2004
February 14, 2006
but I think an important question arises here. Has anyone considered the heathful benefits a Nacional bean might offer? Nacional cocoa IS Forestero, yet has a more delicate taste. Would this absence of astringency mean less flavonoids in the case of a Forestero?
December 12, 2005
I don't know if I can bring wine here again, but perhaps we can make a comparison with the difference of beneficial effects of red and white wine consumption. White wine is also beneficial and also because of a certain content of flavonoids but the effects are seen on a longer term and on slightly different cell compartments. By the way the world flavonoid itself comes from the Latin word for yellow. So maybe there is not everything lost for Criollos, but surely the link between health and Forasteros is really obvious. It would be interesting to see any articles on the effects of processing beans to chocolate on the flavonoid types and content or on the flavonoid content of different chocolates.
The same question arose in me about the Ecuador beans when I read the thread. However the Nacional or Arriba beans are they really Forastero, could anyone put a really based statement on this...
Hi Eshra and Domenico,
On the subject of processing techniques, [url="http://keenlab.ucdavis.edu/articles/Pearson532ClinDevIm05.pdf"]Pearson et al[/url] say:
"Depending on harvesting and processing about 10% of the flavonoids are preserved in the final cocoa and chocolate products"
However, keep in mind that the experiment I referred to in my original post was looking at 85% chocolate, not fresh or raw cocoa beans. So, obviously, some dark chocolates are still high enough in antioxidants to provide therapeutic benefits.
On the subject of Nacional beans, and whether they contain flavonoids ...
The anecdotal evidence:
I got to taste some un-roasted cocoa beans at Pierrick Chouard's chocolate factory in Ecuador last year. As many of you know, Pierrick's chocolates - Plantations - are promoted as being made from "Pure Arriba Cacao". Assuming that Plantations chocolate really is made from Arriba/Nacional beans (and I've never seen anybody question this claim), then I can tell you with certainty that Nacional beans do indeed have ample amounts of purpleness and astringency.
In fact, the un-roasted "Nacional" beans I tasted in Ecuador were the most astringent beans I have ever tasted, anywhere. They were also bright purple, as a result of very poor fermentation. ([url="http://www.tava.com.au/article_processing.html#nacional"]See a photo[/url])
The scientific evidence:[url="http://www.worldcocoafoundation.org/Library/Documents/LunaGeneticsFlavor.pdf"]Chemical Composition and Flavor of Ecuadorian Cocoa Liquor[/url], by Luna et al, specifically quantifies the level of polyphenols in Ecuadorian beans. Their study included two Arriba liquors made from fermented and roasted beans, which were found to have polyphenol levels of 53.9mg/g and 66.5mg/g respectively (that equates to 5.39% and 6.65%).
By comparison, in The Contents and Effects of Polyphenols in Chocolate (linked in previous post), Wollgast states that the average polyphenol content in Forastero liquors is 5%, or 50mg/g.
This published scientific research indicates that Arriba beans are at least as high in polyphenols as regular Forastero beans.
But there's a catch ...
Luna et al point out that, based on taste tests performed by professional tasters, polyphenols are "positively correlated to astringency [and] bitterness". Which rather suggests that Arriba beans aren't as lacking in bitterness and/or astringency as many people would like to believe.
December 12, 2005
Thanks for this really wonderful page you dedicate to cocoa. It is just the type of information that is needed-without all the hype and artificial and snobby mess created around some producers and chocolate manufacturers. Sometimes I get really upset if I would like to cut through the fog if I wonder from where exactly a chocolate is sourced. (Again by the way the same applies to red wine, it is extremely hard to find real wine on the market not having been touched by any artificial additives from any country in the world.) Going through the Nestle article you linked was really interesting, even if I would not call an r2 of 0.8-0.5 a strong correlation statistically as the authors do. The Wollgast dissertation is really of value for me, thanks.
I think on the bottom line the old question remains: nature or nurture? I admit I would like to answer with "nature" that is to see the differences among the "terroir" of cocoa plantations in the chocolates created. And hopefully eat healthy Ecuadorian or ni-Vanuatu chocolate that is not that astringent...Even if Amedei Jamaica is my actual favourite below the 100%s.
Thanks for the compliments on my website. Cocoa is definitely a passion for me, and it pleases me to be able to share the passion.
I agree that it can be hard to "cut through the fog" - there is a great deal of misinformation, and marketing "fluff", in the chocolate industry.
As to the question of nature or nurture? My answer is: both!
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