You have questions, Dr. Sears has answers.
This week Dr. Sears answers your top questions about our new cocoa polyphenols and what makes them unique.
about the health benefits of cocoa, the difference between cocoa, cacao
and chocolate and what most people don't realize is in the chocolate
Dr. Sears answers some of the top questions we receive about our new Cocoa Polyphenols.
Q: What are the health benefits of cocoa?
A: The health benefits of cocoa come from the polyphenols it
contains. Studies link cocoa consumption to improved cardiovascular
health, increased cognition, enhanced blood flow, reduced insulin
resistance, anti-aging benefits, and a healthy gut.
Q: What is the difference between cacao, cocoa, and chocolate?
A: In short, the level of processing defines the difference between
cacao, cocoa and chocolate in addition to the amount of polyphenols.
Cacao is the name of the tree that chocolate comes from. The cacao tree
produces pods which contain cacao beans that can be turned into cocoa
and further processed into chocolate.
Steps During Processing
- Cacao beans are sorted, cleaned and dried.
- The shells are then removed (winnowed) to produce cacao nibs which are roasted to further enhance flavor and aroma.
- Cacao nibs are then ground into a liquid mass called chocolate liquor (no alcohol here).
- Chocolate liquor can be made directly into chocolate or further
refined through a pressing process to extract the cocoa butter from the
- The cocoa solids can be pulverized into cocoa powder, which retain the remaining polyphenol content in dry form.
- The cocoa butter can then be added back in defined amounts to the chocolate liquor to make various grades of chocolate.
- The amounts of chocolate liquor, cocoa butter and cocoa solids
differentiates the type of chocolate to be made (white, milk, dark).
*Note: Before being processed into
chocolate, cacao beans go through a fermentation process. This can
greatly reduce the polyphenol content in the cacao beans. This is why
Zone Labs uses unfermented cacao beans when making our cocoa extract.
Q: What is cocoa extract?
A: Zone Labs developed a proprietary cocoa extract using a
purification process that allowed us to retain the maximum polyphenol
content while minimizing the amount of cadmium, a heavy metal found in
all cocoa products.
Q: Is there a benefit of using cocoa extract over consuming cacao nibs which are considered the purest form of chocolate?
A: In order to gain all the health benefits that come with cocoa
polyphenols you need to eat large amounts of cocoa. What most people
don’t know is that all cocoa products are contaminated with heavy
metals. One of the major considerations when consuming cacao nibs and
cocoa powders is that they naturally contain cadmium, a heavy metal
associated with kidney toxicity. This means higher intakes of cocoa
polyphenols could come with high intakes of cadmium. This is what makes
using cocoa extracts like
desirable because they’ve been purified to minimize the intake of heavy
metals while retaining the maximum amount levels of polyphenols.
Q: Does the level of cocoa polyphenols differ with the type of chocolate?
A: Yes, generally cacao nibs have the highest levels of polyphenols followed by cocoa powder, dark chocolate, and milk chocolate (very few). White chocolate has no polyphenols.
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