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Cocoa treated with alkali and nutrient availability

by (40)
Updated November 27, 2014 at 4:25 AM
Created March 11, 2014 at 2:49 PM

I'm starting to incorporate some dark chocolate into my diet and just became curious about the cocoa treated with alkali. The only knowledge I have of alkali treated foods is traditional hominy grits: they were traditionally treated with alkali to "release" certain vitamins and make the proteins more digestible. But I've been reading that alkali-treated cocoa has less nutrients compared to non-treated cocoa. Just curious about why that is.

And I was also wondering, since cocoa is a bean, are the nutrients made available to us due to the processing steps of fermenting and roasting? And are all or most commercial chocolate products made of fermented and roasted cocoa? Sorry, I've never been a chocolate connoisseur.

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622 · March 13, 2014 at 8:48 PM

Yes, that's right. I personally don't worry too much about the alkalizing part. I have to say, from a culinary point of view, alkalinization is usually more desirable in situations where a milder chocolate flavor is desired. Nutritionally, however, they are essentially identical.

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40 · March 13, 2014 at 8:00 PM

Wow I didn't expect them to be so similar in nutrient profiles. So maybe the alkalizing doesn't impact vitamins and minerals so much...just the flavanoids. And the flavanoid level in cocoa is probably not a huge deal as long as I'm eating lots of colorful veggies and fruits anyways.

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622 · March 12, 2014 at 8:04 PM

Oh no! Sorry, I forgot to post the alkali process chocolate nutrition facts, I don't know how I let that slip my mind. Here it is: http://nutritiondata.self.com/facts/sweets/5472/2

As you'll see, alkali processed chocolate is also extremely nutritious. You really can't go wrong with either one, they are both superb.

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40 · March 12, 2014 at 7:26 PM

Thanks for your info, Gastronomer. I'm probably not going to find out about the alkali effect, but I'll just trust the data and go for the non-alkalized chocolate for the most flavanols :)

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622 · March 11, 2014 at 5:55 PM

You know, it's funny you mention that. I tried the alcohol thing, but for some reason the anti-freezing property of the alcohol backfired since my crappy ice cream maker apparently wasn't cold enough to freeze it all the way through, so it turned out very runny. Thanks for the tip though, I'll try again.

Medium avatar
208 · March 11, 2014 at 5:34 PM

I've got zero ice cream craving, maybe because at one point in my life I owned an ice cream store. You can make an ic at home that will have a better texture. Investigate more recipes, think adding a bit of alcohol which keeps the ic from freezing too much, and getting more air into the mix. I made some a few years ago and it was so good I decided to not do it again.

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787 · March 11, 2014 at 4:51 PM

Yeah the texture really makes it, i've generally been going the organic route as its got least amount of crap in it, usually just dairy/egg/sugar, but I must admit the non-organic ones with gums etc in them have a better 'swirly' texture when half melted. If only they did low sugar options, the only one I can find is sugar free but full of vegetable oil.

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622 · March 11, 2014 at 4:44 PM

I got around to procuring one of those ice cream makers in order to make my own paleo low carb ice cream (dairy free), alas it was not quite the same. Not because the flavor was lacking, but rather because the texture was far from ideal. Nothing at all like the supermarket ones which are creamy, smooth, and easily "scoopable" it was rather hard and slightly gritty. I guess I miss the rich creamy texture of ice cream per se more than the actual flavor.

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787 · March 11, 2014 at 4:33 PM

Supposedly this is quite a good alternative, I haven't put in the effort yet myself as I don't have an ice cream maker, it sounds pretty tasty

https://www.bulletproofexec.com/get-some-ice-cream/

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622 · March 11, 2014 at 4:31 PM

Man, I sure do miss ice cream lol.

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787 · March 11, 2014 at 4:28 PM

Haha we all have our vices, mine is cannabis & ice cream, better than crack or heroin tho!

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622 · March 11, 2014 at 4:28 PM

It is very healthy however, the fatty acid profile is amazing (1st oleic, 2nd stearic, 3rd palmitic), and is very low in carbs (it's actually 85% fat, with the rest being equal parts protein and carbs so mathematically speaking it should be perfectly ketogenic). It also very nutrient dense. It's a superb food if you don't mind the gastrointestinal distress and the diuretic and stimulant effects.

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622 · March 11, 2014 at 4:22 PM

Yes, indeed. I constantly run into this problem as I consume huge quantities of Lindt 90% chocolate. The problem is three-fold. Caffeine, Theobromine, and Fiber. Caffeine and Theombromine are powerful stimulants, in the case of chocolate it is the theobromine, which has the most powerful effect and can easily cause tachychardia (it definitely does to me) and muscle spasms (much like caffeine except somewhat stronger). Also the immense amount of fiber can cause massive gastrointestinal distress (happens to me every time). I'm addicted to it however, and willfully deal with the side effects.

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787 · March 11, 2014 at 4:14 PM

Does anything you know of potentially cause nausea or some kind of gastric fatigue in chocolate? I had some Lindt 90% the other day and 3/4 of a bar had me crawling for my bed to rest

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1 Answers

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622 · March 11, 2014 at 4:08 PM

Cacao "beans" are not legumes (seeds from plants in the family Fabaceae or Leguminosae), they are the seeds of a fruit (just like pumpkin seeds or almonds). So they are perfectly Paleo. They are called "beans" simply out of custom. All chocolate is fermented and roasted. Afterwards, the seeds are ground into a thick paste (cocoa liquor) and the powder is separated from the fat by mechanical pressing. The end results are cacao butter and cacao powder. Cacao powder is extremely nutritious (specifically in minerals). See nutrition info here: http://nutritiondata.self.com/facts/sweets/5471/2

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787 · March 11, 2014 at 4:14 PM

Does anything you know of potentially cause nausea or some kind of gastric fatigue in chocolate? I had some Lindt 90% the other day and 3/4 of a bar had me crawling for my bed to rest

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40 · March 12, 2014 at 7:26 PM

Thanks for your info, Gastronomer. I'm probably not going to find out about the alkali effect, but I'll just trust the data and go for the non-alkalized chocolate for the most flavanols :)

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