Meet Daniëlle the cacao expert
Tell us, who is Danielle?
I am an food enthusiast: I love to cook (fan of Ottolenghi), I studied Nutrition & Dietetics and did a Masters in Health Food Innovation. During all of this, I always try to stimulate healthy ans sustainable living. This is why I really wanted to write my thesis for a conscious company such as Lovechock.
When doing your research in cacao, what did you learn about the power of raw cacao (and its positive nutritions).
I learned that the raw cacao bean is a real powerhouse full of nutrients, especially minerals such as iron, zinc and magnesium and many types of polyphenols (antioxidants). It was nice to learn about the history of cacao, for instance the fact that Olmec, Aztec and Mayan populations used raw cacao as a form of medicine. They consumed the raw cacao bean in the purest form, which is ofcourse very bitter. Nowadays, the raw cacao bean is highly processed and often highly diluted by cacao butter, sugar and other ingredients.
What do you think are the two biggest differences between conventional chocolate and raw chocolate in terms of nutritions?
One of the steps in the production process of conventional chocolate is the roasting of the cacao bean. Unfortunealty, the roasting process of cacao beans lowers the polyphenol content of the cacao beans, which is one of the most important nutrients in chocolate. These polyphenols act as anti-oxidants which protect our cells against damage, in a similar way to red berries. Unfortueantly, a lot of these polyphenols get lost during the roasting process. One of the advantages of raw chocolate is that the cacao beans are not roasted, so more polyphenols are preserved. However, there are a lot of other factors that influence the polyphenol content of the final chocolate, such as the origin of the cacao bean, the fermentation of the cacao bean and ofcourse the cacao percentage in the chocolate bar. The trick is to preserve as much nutrients as possible by picking the right beans and by choosing a minimal production process.
Source: de Rezende Mudenuti NV, de Camargo AC, Shahidi F, Madeira TB, Hirooka EY, Grossmann MVE. Soluble and insoluble-bound fractions of phenolics and alkaloids and their antioxidant activities in raw and traditional chocolate: A comparative study. Journal of Functional Foods. 2018;50:164-71.
If you could choose any message for a whole week on a big poster at a big building in the middle of Amsterdam, what would it be?
What you do makes a difference!