Great News For Chocolate Lovers: New Study Tells All!
You've heard that chocolate looses it's flavonols, or antioxidants, when cooked. I've reported that myself. But a new study says that's not necessarily true.... and here's why....
Fermenting and roasting cocoa beans, resulting in the cocoa or cocoa butter used for many chocolate bars, cakes, and chocolate drinks, does reduce the healing power of chocolate. The flavonols are, essentially, burned out.
But if natural cocoa (or natural cacao) is used as a base for the final product, most, if not all, of the antioxidant content is maintained. Natural cocoa is ground directly from the unprocessed cocoa bean and maintains all of the nutrients of the original bean. There is one caveat: baking soda, which is used in cake recipes to make cakes rise, must be reduced by half and substituted with baking powder.
So the study, undertaken by The Hershey Company and the private Brunswich Laboratories, identified natural cocoa as being the most healthful chocolate to use in cooking, and it identified baking soda as the culprit in baking the antioxidants out. Where baking soda is not used with a natural cocoa based food, such as hot cocoa, chocolate icing (!), and chocoate truffles.... you get pretty much the same benefits as you would from raw chocolate.
If there's no label as to what kind of chocolate is used, say when you are purchasing from a chocolatier, ask what kind of chocolate is used as the base. "According to our estimates, approximately one third of cocoa ingredients used in the United States is cocoa powder, which is used in a diverse array of chocolate-flavored foods including beverages, cookies, cakes, snack bars and ice cream. Natural cocoa powder, like most dark chocolates, is a concentrated source of naturally occurring flavanols and can be a significant dietary source of flavanols" says David Stuart, Ph.D., Director of the Hershey Center for Health and Nutrition.
I just happen to have some healthy chocolate icing in the fridge that's calling my name....