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Researchers Find More Polyphenols in Cacao Seeds Than Fruit Juice
Posted: February 8, 2011
Researchers from the Hershey Center for Health & Nutrition have published a paper suggesting that cacao seeds contain a high amount of antioxidants and more polyphenols and flavanols than fruit juice.
"Cacao seeds are a super fruit," published in Chemistry Central Journal, compared natural (non-alkalized) cocoa powder to fruit powders (açai, blueberry, cranberry, pomegranate) by gram and 100% non-blended fruit juices (açai, blueberry, cranberry, pomegranate) to a natural cocoa beverage, solid dark chocolate (60–63% cacao) and hot cocoa mix by serving.
Three brands were selected per fruit powder and fruit product. Each brand was analyzed for antioxidant capacity (ORAC (μM TE/g)), total polyphenol content (TP (mg/g)) and total flavanol content (TF (mg/g)) in triplicate.
The researchers, led by Debra Miller, PhD, found that the antioxidant capacity of cocoa powder (634 ± 33 μMTE/g) was significantly greater than blueberry, cranberry and pomegranate powder on a per gram basis; however, the antioxidant capacity of dark chocolate (9911 ± 1079 μMTE/serving) was not significantly greater, on a per serving basis, than pomegranate juice but was greater than all other products tested. In contrast, hot cocoa mix had significantly less antioxidant capacity (1232 ± 159 μMTE/serving) than all of the other products tested.
The total polyphenol content of cocoa powder (48.2 ± 2.1 mg/g) appeared to be greater than açai, blueberry and cranberry powder; however, these differences did not reach statistical significance. The total polyphenol content of dark chocolate (991.1 mg/serving) was significantly greater than all of the other products tested, aside from pomegranate juice, on a per serving basis. The total polyphenol content of pomegranate juice was significantly greater than that of cranberry juice; all products tested had higher TP values than hot cocoa mix (57.6 ± 4.9 mg/serving). It should be noted that the hot cocoa mix was the only cacao product in the study made with alkalized cocoa, which involves a process (alkalinization) that has been shown to destroy polyphenolic compounds and is likely responsible for the significant differences in ORAC, TP, and TC values observed between hot cocoa mix and the other cocoa products.