In traditional European chocolate making, roasting is a normal part of the chocolate making process and something that many people never question. But it is worth asking: what affect does roasting of cacao beans have on their beneficial nutritional properties?
Polyphenols are one of the main classes of beneficial compounds in cacao and have been quite well researched for the benefits. These include increasing blood flow to the brain, improving nitric oxide levels, lowering blood pressure and benefiting heart health. Two specific polyphenols that have scientists particularly excited are Epicatechin and Proanthocyanidin.
Epicatechins have been found to enhance the beneficial effects of exercise and increase capacity for muscle aerobic metabolism (delaying fatigue). Initial research also suggests that fhey may benefit long term brain health by improving cerebral blood flow, synaptic plasticity, and mitochondrial function.
Proanthocyanidins possess cardio-protective properties and are believe to help block harmful nitrosamines from forming in the body. They have also been researched for their ability to protect skin cells from UV oxidative stress, improve vision, improve joint flexibility and strengthen capillaries, arteries and veins.
What does the research say?
A study was published in the Food Chemistry Journal in which researchers roasted batches of cacao beans at 100C, 130C, 150C, 170C, and 190C for 10, 20, 30 or 40 minutes. The concept of the study was to see how different temperatures and roasting times would affect the levels of various beneficial compounds in the cacao beans.
Researchers measured total phenolic content, Epicatechin and Proanthocyanidin and found that all of these substantially decreased during the roasting process. The one positive affect to roasting that was found was that it slightly increased catechin levels after 10 minutes, but it's highly unusual for a chocolate roaster to roast beans for just ten minutes and these began to decrease as time went on. The most significant decrease observed was a 96% decrease in Epicatechin levels after roasting for 40 minutes at 190C.
We're proud to make Raw Chocolate!
This is one of the reasons that we at Addictive Wellness prefer to have our cacao and chocolate raw rather than roasted for the ultimate, most beneficial experience. If you've ever tried one of our bars, you'll understand that raw chocolate, when done right, can taste just as good as any traditional roasted chocolate and you get to preserve these important heat-sensitive compounds.
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