Wednesday, February 3, 2016

To Alkalize or Not To Alkalize? That Is The Question

So, everybody has at some point read an article about a study that describes the benefits of the antioxidants found in chocolate. These articles and studies usually advise the reader to choose the darkest chocolate because it contains more of the antioxidant-rich cocoa solids. This is good advice, but how do you apply it to cocoa powder? And how does alkalization fit into this?

Cocoa powder is essentially just ground cocoa beans so it contains all of the same antioxidant-bearing cocoa solids. You might come across information saying that alkalized cocoa powder contains fewer antioxidants and nutrients in general than the natural cocoa. While this is technically true, the difference really isn’t that significant.

Antioxidant levels are measured by the ORAC (oxygen radical absorbance capacity) score. Ecuadorian cocoa beans and especially the arriba bean (which we use exclusively) have higher ORAC scores than more common beans, like African cocoa. The USDA publishes an ORAC table that contains the results of their lab tests on various foods, spices, and extracts. A quick look at the table (which you can find here) makes this comparison pretty simple.

According the official USDA ORAC table, natural cocoa powder has a score of 80,933 per 100 grams, while alkalized (dutched) cocoa powder has a score of 40,200. Even though it’s roughly 50% less than the natural, the alkalized score is still much higher than any other food that was tested other than cocoa mass and several spices such as cumin seeds. Realistically, alkalized cocoa beans beat the spices as well because you obviously cannot consume nearly the same quantities of them as you can dutched cocoa powder. So, even though the alkalized powder does have a lower ORAC score than the natural, it is still much higher than other foods known to be antioxidant rich such as a bar of dark chocolate (20,823) or red wine (5,693).

In short, alkalized cocoa powder is an extremely antioxidant rich food. If you prefer using dutched powder, by all means keep using it. You’re getting all the benefits of dark cocoa along with the benefits of alkalization.

Click here to order any of our cocoa powders!

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