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Kuna Indians and the cacao heaven


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I haven't had a chance to look  closely at these  articles/ references.


Polyphenols in Cocoa and Cocoa Products: Is There a Link between Antioxidant Properties and Health?



"Factors affecting the quantity and quality of polyphenols in cocoa beans and cocoa-based products"


[...]Cocoa from different varieties exhibited differences in polyphenols content by up to 4-fold [142]. Moreover, cocoa beans from different origins contain different amount of (–)-epicatechin and (+)- catechin. Cocoa beans from Ecuador possessed the highest amounts of (–)-epicatechin and (+)-
catechin, followed by beans from Ghana and Trinidad [143]. Azizah et al. [144] also reported that cocoa beans from different countries may have different polyphenols content. They found that the highest phenolic content was in Malaysian beans followed by Sulawesian, Ghanian and Côte d’Ivore. There was about 6-fold variation in epicatechin contents in fermented cocoa beans from different regions [40].
Different degrees of roasting significantly increased the amount of (+)-catechin due to the isomerization of (–)-epicatechin. Kyi et al. [159] demonstrated that the high temperature used during drying of fermented cocoa beans had reduced polyphenol contents as a result of enzymatic oxidation. Non-enzymatic oxidation of polyphenols could also occur at this stage. Almost 90% of polyphenols are lost from fresh cocoa beans during fermentation. Polyphenols content gradually decreased upon fermentation from days 0 to 8 [153]. Tomas-Barberan et al. [4] quantified the content of dimers and trimers in unfermented and unroasted cocoa powder. Dimers are present in cocoa powder produced from fermented and dried cocoa beans. As cocoa powder is derived from fermented, dried, and roasted cocoa beans, the loss of phenolic compounds is higher than that of cocoa liquor [160]. Furthermore several phenolic compounds were undetected in cocoa powder produced from fermented, dried, and roasted beans compared to cocoa powder produced from unfermented beans [4]. In practice, cocoa manufacturers would blend the unfermented, partly fermented and fully fermented beans, to obtain the desired flavour characteristics and also to reduce the excessive astringency and bitterness. The bitterness of the chocolates was also due to the presence of flavonoids. Thus, manufacturers tend to remove them in large quantities to enhance taste quality.

The introduction of heating during manufacturing of chocolates and cocoa-based products can change the enantiomeric composition of (+)-catechin [162]. In addition, the epimerization of catechins could be caused by the conditions applied during the extraction procedures. It has been shown that two days of sun-drying of fresh unfermented cocoa beans (without fermentation) causes a 50% decrease in epicatechin content. This process may reduce the epicatechin content gradually during the process of making chocolates starting from fresh cocoa beans. However, most of the beans used for chocolates manufacturing are fermented, yet, it is far from being a standardized process throughout the world, or even within a region.



Effect of Fermentation and Drying on Procyanidins, Antiradical Activity and Reducing Properties of Cocoa Beans



Fermentation of the pulp surrounding the beans represents a key step in cocoa processing for the development of the chocolate flavour and taste since it produces aroma precursors. During fermentation, the combination of endogenous and exogenous (microbial) enzymatic activities along with the diffusion of metabolites into and out of the cotyledons allows polyphenols to polymerise and react with other compounds to form complexes. These reactions decrease polyphenols solubility, thus reducing bitterness and astringency and give rise to the typical colour of well-fermented beans (Hansen et al. 1998; Lima et al. 2011). Fermentation is considered responsible for the decrease of the flavan-3-ol content, (−)-epicatechin in particular, which is often used as an index of the processing extent; the level of reduction resulted proportional to the degree of fermentation and was ascribed to both the oxidation processes and the diffusion of polyphenols into fermentation sweating (Kim and Keeney 1984; de Brito et al. 2000; Camu et al. 2008; Payne et al. 2010).


After fermentation, a drying step is applied to reduce the moisture content and water activity of cocoa beans and to confer them a longer shelf life. Drying can be carried out naturally, by making use of solar energy, or artificially by air. Whatever the process, drying conditions may favour oxidative phenomena that contribute, together with polymerisation reactions, to induce the formation of new compounds implied in the reduction of the negative sensory notes and the development of the peculiar chocolate ‘brown’ colour. As far as the effect on polyphenolic compounds is concerned, drying is considered to reduce epicatechin and catechin contents with percentages of decrease depending on the processing conditions adopted (de Brito et al. 2000; Payne et al. 2010). To our knowledge, scarce in literature is the information regarding the effect of fermentation and drying on the procyanidins profile, on their polymerisation from monomers up to oligomers and polymers, and also on some functional properties such as antiradical activity and reducing power (Aikpokpodion and Dongo 2010).


Consumers are becoming more and more aware of health issues, and research is needed to evaluate the effect of processing conditions on food functional properties and to optimise technological procedures that allow the right balance between health, taste and acceptability of the final



J Agric Food Chem. 2015 Nov 18;63(45):9948-53.PMID: 26086521


Effect of fermentation and drying on cocoa polyphenols.



Cocoa seed polyphenols have demonstrated interesting beneficial effects in humans. Most polyphenols contained in fresh seeds are chemically modified during fermentation, drying, and cocoa powder or chocolate production. The improvement of these procedures to obtain a high-polyphenol-content cocoa is highly desirable. To this aim, a field investigation on the effect of fermentation and natural drying on fine flavor National cocoa (cacao Nacional) was performed. Cocoa seeds were fermented for 6 days and, every day, samples were sun-dried and analyzed for polyphenol content and antioxidant power. During the first 2 days of fermentation, Folin-Ciocalteu and FRAP tests evidenced a significant reduction of polyphenol content and antioxidant capacity, respectively. Changes during the following days of fermentation were less significant. Epicatechin, the most studied member of the catechin family, followed a similar pathway of degradation. Data confirmed the high impact of fermentation and drying on cocoa seed polyphenols. Fermentation and drying are, on the one hand, necessary to obtain cocoa flavor and palatability but, on the other hand, are responsible for greatly compromising polyphenol content. To obtain high-polyphenol-content cocoa, the existing fermentation, drying, and manufacturing protocols should be scientifically reviewed to understand and modify the critical steps.

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Sibiriak, Re the fat content. Apparently, there are low-fat cacao/cocoa powders, and thanks for having underlined the diff between cocoa and cacao, I really thought they where synonims.


The cocoa powder I use has only 13% fat, of which about a half is saturated. It hasn't been processed but it has been defatted. It's from Bolivian organic farming:




Re: processing temperatures, I remember I read an article where various degrees of temps were described, from totally raw or sun dried cacao to pretty well roasted one. I must retrieve the article. The issue is apparently confounded  by the variability in EC/C content in different varities, grown in different countries.

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The issue is apparently confounded  by the variability in EC/C content in different varities, grown in different countries.



The variation in flavanol content is a big problem.  How do you know what you are getting before buying?


Looking at the 2014 ConsumerLab report that got a lot of attention, I notice that  the brands with the higher flavanol levels also tend to be the one's with the higher cadmium levels. (Ecuadorian cacao is noted elsewhere for high flavanol content but also for high cadmium.)




Previously discussed here:





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Guest Dominique

More isn't always better. Too much antioxidants can form reactive oxygen species. If you consume 40 gramms cacao in one meal you'll probably end up having that effect. If you split it into 5 consumptions, like the Kuna do, you don't get that effect. Less is sometimes more and balance is key. We live in a society that always wants more: be careful about the way you're thinking.

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More isn't always better. Too much antioxidants can form reactive oxygen species. If you consume 40 gramms cacao in one meal you'll probably end up having that effect. If you split it into 5 consumptions, like the Kuna do, you don't get that effect. Less is sometimes more and balance is key. We live in a society that always wants more: be careful about the way you're thinking.



 I agree on distributing the quantities across the day. Cacao is not only polyphenols, it's theobromine and other compounds as well...

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