• Does Roasting Affect Cocoa's Anti-Inflammatory Qualities? - Chromatography Explores

HPLC, UHPLC

Does Roasting Affect Cocoa's Anti-Inflammatory Qualities? - Chromatography Explores

Jun 19 2020

Chocolate is on many people’s list of must-have foods. Billions of people around the globe enjoy chocolate and other cocoa products. And besides the pleasurable effects of eating chocolate and cocoa, they might be bringing us some health benefits too. It has been shown that cocoa can many different health benefits along with a great taste in chocolate. But a paper published in the journal Current Developments in Nutrition suggests that how cocoa is prepared can have an impact on the potential health benefits. Let us see what those benefits are and how they might be compromised.

Cocoa and health – a match made in heaven?

Cocoa has appeared in many different cultures for hundreds, if not thousands, of years. It was first developed as a food crop in South America, with the Mayan and Aztec cultures using cocoa as a drink and foodstuff. It has been reported that the first use of cocoa could be dated to over 5000 years ago in south east Ecuador. Some Mesoamerican cultures linked cocoa to their gods and used cocoa in ceremonies to the gods.

Chronic inflammation is associated with many different illnesses besides arthritis. Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s disease, diabetes mellitus and coronary artery disease all have links with chronic inflammation. Researchers are therefore interested in medicines and nutrients that might have anti-inflammatory properties. There is evidence from research that flavanols might have anti-inflammatory properties. Flavanols have been shown to increase the production of anti-inflammatory cytokines such as interleukin-4 and interleukin-5. Cocoa is rich in flavanols – hence its interest to researchers as an anti-inflammatory agent.

It is how you roast them beans that affects the quality

Cocoa beans undergo several processes before they are used in food and drinks including fermentation, roasting and alkalization. Studies have indicated that roasting and alkalization can affect the total phenolic content of cocoa. In the paper referenced above the researchers prepared cocoa powders using different roasting and alkalization protocols and analysed the effect on the chemical composition using liquid chromatography. Advances in liquid chromatography are the topic of the article, The Theory and Advantages of Solid-Core Particles.

The researchers roasted cocoa beans at temperatures between 110-150°C and treated in alkali for between 0-120 minutes before extracting the cocoa and analysing the polyphenols. The team also assessed the anti-inflammatory properties of the differently processed cocoa on the inhibition of phospholipase A2 and interleukin-8 production in human colon cells.

They found that roasting and alkalization led to a decreased total phenolic content, but alkalization had a greater effect. Different roasting and alkalization protocols also influenced the levels of individual polyphenols. So, roasting and alkalization at optimum conditions give us beans that produce chocolate heaven – but can also produce the optimum health benefits.


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