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.
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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