Chocolate May Soon Be Healthier And More Delicious

Did you hear that? The faint, sweet sound of children laughing? This may be because researchers may have found a way to make chocolate more nutritious and taste even better that it currently does.

Chocolate is already revered as a healthy power player: Some kinds have been shown to lower risk for stroke, boost mood and potentially serve as brain food, helping people to feel more awake and focused. Plus, its special well of antioxidants may help improve memory.

To further amplify chocolate’s street cred, Emmanuel Ohene Afoakwa, Ph.D., who is at the University of Ghana, and his team added a step to the process that is used to transform cocoa beans into the chocolate you’d find in a candy store. In chocolate’s conventional procedure, cocoa beans are roasted to form a palatable chocolate product. During the roasting period, the beans lose some of their heart-healthy antioxidants (polyphenols).

Afoakwa and his team stored the cocoa bean pods before their fermenting and roasting process, hoping to retain some of the lost nutrients. To gauge the effect of pod-storage, researchers divided 300 cocoa pods into four groups. The first group of pods underwent the traditional process for making chocolate: The beans are removed from their pods, fermented in a basket for a few days and set out in the sun to dry. They are then roasted.

The three remaining groups of pods were stored — a method called “pulp preconditioning” — for three, seven or 10 days before going through the typical fermentation and drying process. Afoakwa says the group of pods that were stored 10 days contained more antioxidants than any other group after roasting. —> Read More