Cocoa solids are a mixture of many substances remaining after cocoa butter is extracted from cacao beans. When sold as an end product, it may also be called cocoa powder, cocoa, and cacao. In contrast, the fatty component of chocolate is cocoa butter. Cocoa butter is 50% to 57% of the weight of cocoa beans and gives chocolate its characteristic melting properties. Cocoa liquor or cocoa mass is a paste of roasted cocoa beans with cocoa butter and solids in their natural proportions. Chocolate requires the addition of extra cocoa butter to cocoa liquor, and the excess cocoa solids resulting from the chocolate industry dictate the relatively cheap supply of cocoa powder. This contrasts with the earliest European usage of cocoa where, before chocolate was popularized, cocoa powder was the primary product and cocoa butter was little more than a waste product.
Natural cocoa powder has a light brown color and a pH level of 5.1 to 5.4. The processed (alkalized) cocoa powder is darker in color, ranging from brownish red to nearly black, with a pH from 6.8 to 8.1. The alkalization process reduces bitterness and improves solubility, which is important for beverage product applications. All of these pH values are considered safe for food use.
|Nutritional value per 100 g (3.5 oz)|
|Energy||954 kJ (228 kcal)|
|Percentages are roughly approximated using US recommendations for adults.
Source: USDA Nutrient Database
Cocoa powder contains several minerals including calcium, copper, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, sodium and zinc. All of these minerals are found in greater quantities in cocoa powder than either cocoa butter or cocoa liquor. Cocoa solids also contain 230 mg of caffeine and 2057 mg of theobromine per 100g, which are mostly absent from the other components of the cocoa bean.
Cocoa powder is rich in flavonoids, a type of phenolic acid. The amount of flavonoids depends on the amount of processing and manufacturing the cocoa powder undergoes, but cocoa powder can contain up to 10% its weight in flavonoids. Natural cocoas are high in flavanols, but when the cocoa is processed with alkali, also known as Dutch processing or Dutching, the flavanols are substantially reduced. Tests of nine cocoa powders and nibs commercially available in the U.S. in 2014 found flavanol levels to range from 12.2 mg to 35.3 mg per gram. Flavanols are one of six compounds further classified as flavonoids. Flavanols, which are also found in fruits and vegetables, are linked to certain health benefits linked to coronary heart disease and stroke. The topic of how flavanols benefit cardiovascular health is still under debate. It has been suggested that the flavanols may take part in mechanisms such as nitric oxide and antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and antiplatelet effects. Benefiting these mechanisms may improve endothelial function, lipid levels, blood pressure, and insulin resistance.
Cocoa and cacao powders may contain cadmium, a toxic heavy metal and probable carcinogen. The European Union has proposed a limit for cadmium in cocoa powders of 0.6 mcg per gram. In Canada, a daily serving of a natural health product must contain no more than 6 mcg of cadmium for an individual weighing 150 lbs and 3 mcg for a 75 lb individual. While the U.S. government has not set a limit for cadmium in foods or health products, the state of California has established a maximum allowable daily level of oral cadmium exposure of 4.1 mcg, and requires products containing more than this amount per daily serving to bear a warning on the label. One investigation by an independent consumer testing laboratory found that seven of nine commercially available cocoa powders and nibs selected for testing contained more than 0.3 mcg of cadmium per serving gram; five of these products exceeded the proposed EU limit of 0.6 mcg per gram.
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- Materials Handled Cocoa Powder: Overview. Retrieved: 2 April 2014.
- Steinberg, F.M.; Bearden, M.M.; Keen, C.L. (February 2003). "Cocoa and chocolate flavonoids: Implications for cardiovascular health" 103 (2). pp. 215–223. Retrieved November 9, 2011.
- "USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference, Release 24, (2011)".
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- "Amending Regulation (EC) No 1881/2006 as regards maximum levels of cadmium in foodstuff". http://ec.europa.eu/. European Commission (EU). 2013. Retrieved 10 February 2015.
- "Quality of natural health products guide". http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca/. Health Canada. Retrieved 10 February 2015.
- "Proposition 65 Maximum Allowable Daily Level (MADL) for Reproductive Toxicity for Cadmium (Oral Route)". http://www.oehha.org/. State of California: Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA) Reproductive and Cancer Hazard Assessment Section. Retrieved 10 February 2015.
- David Schardt (1 July 2014). "What to Eat: Are Cocoa and Chocolate a Reliable Source of Flavanols?". NutritionAction.com. Retrieved 10 February 2015.
- Markham Heid (August 2014). "Cocoa Powders Found To Contain A Toxic Metal". http://www.prevention.com/. Prevention. Retrieved 10 February 2015.
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