NUTRITION&FOOD Published March26, 2015 By Staff Writer

Watch Out, Healthier Chocolates Are On Their Way

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Cocoa
(Photo : Justin Sullivan / Getty Images News)

Among the billions of people around the world, who does not love chocolate? However, due to its sugar content, it has been dubbed as unhealthy by experts. Fortunately, dark chocolate entails a lot of health benefits like preventing heart disease, obesity and diabetes. Now, scientists have figured out how to make it even healthier.

Emmanuel Ohene Afoakwa, a professor of food science and technology at the University of Ghana, explains that his research team has developed a new method for making chocolate that offers more health benefits than the 'regular' dark chocolate.

The researchers of the study were from Belgium's Ghent University and the University of Ghana, and their findings will be discussed at the national meeting of the American Chemical Society in Denver. Their topic focused on explaining how many antioxidants chocolates have. Antioxidants are important to the body because they fight and ward off free radicals that are responsible in premature aging and many diseases.

"We decided to add a pod-storage step before the beans were even fermented to see whether that would have an effect on the polyphenol content. This is not traditionally done, and this is what makes our research fun," Afoakwa explained.

He added, "This aided the fermentation processes and enhanced antioxidant capacity of the beans, as well as the flavor."

Before we had chocolates, we had cocoa beans. In order to make chocolate, cocoa beans were removed from pods and fermented in baskets. They were also dried under the sun and then roasted. The whole process takes a toll on the polyphenols or antioxidants due to heating.

To solve the problem, they altered the method in making chocolate and called it pulp pre-conditioning.

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

With this, a healthier and richer chocolate will be created with their new proposed method.

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