A study published in the journal Food Chemistry by Torres-Moreno et al. compared six chocolates from each origin and concluded that Ecuadorian chocolate contained more unsaturated fatty acids and less saturated fat than Ghanaian chocolate.
Impact on cholesterol
Previous research has suggested that fatty acid profiles in foods have a direct impact on human health. Unsaturated fat is widely believed to lower cholesterol, while saturated fat is thought to raise total cholesterol and low-density lipo-proteins (LDL) levels.
“Differences in fatty acids profile composition between Ecuadorian and Ghanaian samples were mainly explained by the effect of geographical origins, both for unroasted cocoa beans and chocolate, but not by the processing conditions (roasting and conching time),” said the researchers.
Saturated fatty acid content was 66.04% greater in the Ghanaian samples than the Ecuadorian chocolates. The Ecuadorian samples contained an average of 2.36% of polyunsaturated fatty acids, compared to 1.78% for the Ghanaian ones.
But the researchers warned that dark chocolate still contained high levels of total fat and sugar and should be consumed in moderation (20-25 g a day).
Ghanaian and Ecuadorian origins
Ghana accounts for 30% of the world’s cocoa supply, second behind Côte D’Ivoire. The country’s cocoa is used in many well-known brands such as Mondelēz’s Cadbury Dairy Milk.
Ecuador accounts for around 5% of the world’s cocoa supply and is the seventh largest global producer. Ecuador’s fine flavor Arriba beans are often used for premium dark chocolate tablets. Nestlé is the biggest buyer and exporter of Ecuadorian cocoa. The Swiss firm recently has opened a $16m chocolate molding and packaging line that uses fine flavor Arriba cocoa beans.
Food Chemistry, Vol. 166, pps 125–132
‘Nutritional composition and fatty acids profile in cocoa beans and chocolates with different geographical origin and processing conditions’
Authors: M. Torres-Moreno, E. Torrescasana, J. Salas-Salvadó and C. Blanch