Over the past ten years, dark chocolate and cocoa have become recognized through numerous studies for flavanol antioxidant benefits. In a study published this month in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, scientists from The Hershey Company and Brunswick Laboratories of Norton, MA report on the levels of antioxidants in selected cocoa powders and the effect of processing on the antioxidant levels. The study, which analyzed Hershey's Natural Cocoa Powder and nineteen other cocoa powders, reported that natural cocoa powders have the highest levels of antioxidants. Natural cocoa powders contained an average of 34.6 mg of flavanols per gram of cocoa powder, or about 3.5% of total flavanols by weight. This places cocoa powder among the foods highest in these types of antioxidants.
The study went on to look at a variety of Dutched (alkaline processed) cocoa powders, which are commonly used by the food industry. New findings showed that the Dutched cocoa powders, especially the light- and medium-Dutched cocoa powders, retained significant amounts of cocoa flavanol antioxidants. In fact, despite the losses created by light to medium Dutch processing, these cocoa powders still were in the top 10% of flavanol-containing foods when results were compared to foods listed in the USDA Procyanidin Database.
"This is an important finding for people who like all things chocolate." said Ken Miller, the lead author of the paper. "Because cocoa powder is one of the richest sources of flavanol antioxidants to start with, even lightly- or medium-Dutched processed cocoa powders still retain significant levels of the beneficial antioxidants."
Dutching, or alkali treatment, of cocoa is a 180-year-old process used to lower the bitterness and darken the color of cocoa powder. Dutched cocoas are commonly used in beverages such as chocolate milk and hot cocoa mixes, in cakes and cookies, and in a limited number of confections. In the United States, the presence of Dutched cocoa or Dutched chocolate is indicated by looking for the terms "dutched" or "processed with alkali" on the ingredients label.
In this study, the degree of cocoa alkalization caused a progressive, but not complete loss, of flavanol antioxidants, with about 40% retained in lightly dutched cocoas, 25% retained in medium dutched cocoas, and 10% retained in heavily dutched cocoas.
About The Hershey Company
The Hershey Company (NYSE: HSY) is the largest North American manufacturer of quality chocolate and sugar confectionery products. With revenues of nearly $5 billion and approximately 13,000 employees worldwide, The Hershey Company markets such iconic brands as Hershey's, Reese's, Hershey's Kisses, Kit Kat, Twizzlers and Ice Breakers. Hershey is the leader in the fast-growing dark and premium chocolate segment, with such brands as Hershey's Bliss, Hershey's Special Dark, Hershey's Extra Dark and Cacao Reserve by Hershey's. Hershey's Ice Breakers franchise delivers refreshment across a variety of mint and gum flavors and formats. Hershey's partnership with Starbucks offers a premium chocolate experience that combines the highest-quality chocolate with Starbucks coffee-house flavors, for a range of delicious and distinct chocolate products. In addition, Artisan Confections Company, a wholly owned subsidiary of The Hershey Company, markets such premium chocolate offerings as Scharffen Berger, known for its high-cacao dark chocolate products, Joseph Schmidt, recognized for its fine, handcrafted chocolate gifts, and Dagoba, known for its high-quality natural and organic chocolate bars. Visit us at www.hersheynewsroom.com.