Chocolate Lovers Rejoice! Your Favorite Treat Just Got Healthier

Polyphenols in chocolate might pack healthier, tastier punch with new storing, roasting process

Chocolate lovers said it couldn't be done, but researchers might have found a way to make chocolate a little tastier — and healthier.

That's right. The authors of a recent study found that storing cocoa beans a little longer before roasting them and roasting them longer at a lower temperature brought out more of those delicious chocolate flavors — and along with them, more of those health-boosting polyphenols.

Polyphenols are antioxidants, which means they may have anti-cancer properties. The polyphenols found in chocolate have also been linked to improved heart health.

Chocolate fanatics can thank Ohene Afoakwa, PhD, the lead study author, for this tasty discovery. The University of Ghana researcher and colleagues wanted to add some changes to the chocolate-making process to make the stuff tastier and healthier.

"We decided to add a pod-storage step before the beans were even fermented to see whether that would have an effect on the polyphenol content," Dr. Afoakwa said in a press release. "This is not traditionally done, and this is what makes our research fundamentally different. It's also not known how roasting affects polyphenol content."

These researchers also roasted the cocoa beans longer than usual but at a slightly slower temperature — something they suggested might better preserve the polyphenols.

Dr. Afoakwa and team presented their research March 24 at a meeting of the American Chemical Society in Denver. Research presented at conferences might not have been peer-reviewed.

The Belgian government and the University of Ghana funded this research. The authors disclosed no conflicts of interest.