NEOH Ingredients / NEOHpedia: Cacao

Cacao Mass / Chocolate

When it comes to yearning for sweet things, it is undisputable that the first thing we reach for is chocolate. Since it is our goal to create a healthy alternative to a conventional chocolate bar with our CrossBar, the choice of coating the bar with chocolate was actually clear from the start. The complex composition of nutrients in cocoa is not to be scoffed at, and no other plant-based food can score with such a large amount of magnesium, calcium and iron. In addition, there are the essential amino acids and antioxidants that make the cocoa bean unbeatable in its nutritional balance. Furthermore, 15% of the protein in our NEOH CrossBar comes from cocoa. 

Cocoa has it all. Especially raw cocoa. Over 300 ingredients that not only promote personal well-being, but also have a positive effect on heart health, cholesterol levels, blood clotting and the transmission of nerve impulses. The neutral transmitters serotonin and dopamine contained in the cocoa trigger feelings of happiness and, thanks to the unsaturated fatty acid anandamide, we feel more relaxed. Flavonoids work against the formation of fat deposits and, in addition to lowering blood pressure, also reduce the risk of developing Alzheimer's disease. 

The cocoa bean is a versatile foodstuff. It is not only the main ingredient in the universally popular and coveted chocolate, it is also a popular drink when liquid in the form of cocoa. After coffee and tea, it ranks third among the most consumed hot drinks in Germany. Cocoa is used very frequently, especially in baking. Cocoa butter is highly valued, especially in the cosmetics sector.

Cocoa butter is currently very popular as a body lotion, make-up remover lotion or as a cream to prevent stretch marks, especially during pregnancy.

Coarsely ground cocoa, mixed with natural ingredients such as curd cheese and honey, is often mixed into a face mask or used in its pure form as a peeling agent. The product is also said to have a skin-firming and cellulite-reducing effect. 

First the cocoa beans have to be cleaned. This is done pneumatically and magnetically with sieves and brushes. The beans are then roasted. The roasting process contributes significantly to the aroma. Here it is very important to get the right temperature. This is usually between 130 and 150 degrees Celsius. Then the shells of the cocoa beans can be removed.  The next step after having been cooled down and roasted takes place in the crushing plant. The beans are crushed by the corrugated rollers of the crushers here. The result is cocoa nibs.

These are cleaned again and then ground. In rolling mills, the cell tissue is torn open and the heat released by the process melts the exposed cocoa butter, which then envelops the fragments. The finished, brown and intensively smelling mass is called the cocoa mass.  As early as 1500 B.C., the Olmecs, who lived in today's Mexico, drank a drink called "Kakawa".

They thus coined the current name cocoa and were the first to use the bean as a foodstuff. The Maya then called it "Kakaw". They traded cocoa as a divine gift and also used it as a means of payment. "Xocólatl" means bitter, spicy water and this is what the drink was called, which the Aztecs refined with various spices. They also regarded it as divine and used it as a means of payment.  From 1585 on, the world trade in cocoa beans began. Until the 19th century, chocolate was only available in pharmacies and reserved for the nobility.  

The cocoa bean, as the seed of the cocoa fruit is called, grows on the cocoa tree. The plant is found in nature in the rainforest, grows best at temperatures around 20 degrees Celsius and needs a lot of rain. It also prefers shade from other trees, which is why the tree is often found in the immediate vicinity of banana and palm trees. Central America, South America, the Caribbean, Oceania, South East Asia and West Africa are the main regions of cultivation.

The latter area harvests 75% of the world's cocoa beans.  A cocoa fruit looks like a lemon or honeydew melon, and it can weigh up to one kilo. It contains up to 50 cocoa beans. The consistency and taste of the flesh is reminiscent of lychees. 

 Due to the ever-increasing consumption of cocoa-containing products, there are huge cocoa plantations worldwide, where the trees are cultivated as monoculture. Since this is not their preferred habitat, however, much irrigation and fertilization is required to ensure that the trees produce the desired yield. 

Thanks to its mix of nutrients, cocoa is one of the most complex foods in the world. 

 At 500 mg magnesium per 100 g, the cocoa bean contains more magnesium than any other plant-based food. In comparison, nuts contain only 200 mg per 100 g. Magnesium can relieve headaches and support bone structure and the regulation of metabolism.

It has an antispasmodic and muscle-relaxing effect, and contributes to the health of the heart.  Iron is essential for blood formation in humans. Cocoa contains 7.3 mg of iron per 100 g.  

The bean contains 160 mg of calcium per 100 g. This is 40 mg more than 100 g milk. Calcium contributes to the healthy growth of bones, teeth and muscles, and has a positive effect on blood clotting and the transmission of nerve impulses. 

Antioxidants prevent fat deposits in the blood vessels, inflammatory processes in the body, strokes and heart attacks. They also reduce oxidative stress and lower cholesterol levels.  Endorphins, dopamine, serotonin, tryptophan and phenylethylamine are amino acids present in the cocoa bean.

As neurotransmitters, these ensure that well-being is increased and that feelings of happiness are felt during consumption.  No other food contains more flavonoids than cocoa. These counteract the formation of fat deposits and, in addition to lowering blood pressure, also reduce the risk of developing Alzheimer's disease.  

The cocoa bean also provides  enough unsaturated fatty acids. These have a positive effect on heart function and cholesterol levels. Anandamide in particular has a mood-enhancing and relaxing effect. 

• versatile
• many nutrients
• taste
• natural product
• raw material
• has a positive effect on health
• promotes personal well-being
• helps to lose weight in its raw form

Sources

American Heart Association’s Nutrition, Physical Activity and Metabolism/Cardiovascular Disease Epidemiology and Prevention, 2011 Scientific Sessions, March 22-25.

Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry: Cocoa Has More Phenolic Phytochemicals and a Higher Antioxidant Capacity than Teas and Red Wine

JUDELSON D.A., PRESTON A.G., MILLER D.L., MUÑOZ C.X., KELLOGG M.D., LIEBERMAN H.R. Effects of theobromine and caffeine on mood and vigilance. J. Clin. Psychopharmacol. 2013;33:499–506

KATZ DL, DOUGHTY K, ALI A., Cocoa and chocolate in human health and disease, Antioxid Redox Signal. 2011 Nov 15;15(10):2779-811.

SCAPAGNINI G, DAVINELLI S, DI RENZO L, DE LORENZO A, OLARTE HH, MICALI G, CICERO AF, GONZALEZ S., Cocoa bioactive compounds: significance and potential for the maintenance of skin health, Nutrients. 2014 Aug 11;6(8):3202-13.

SCHOLEY A., OWEN L. Effects of chocolate on cognitive function and mood: A systematic review. Nutr. Rev. 2013;71:665–681.

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