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Cacao Lab

What actually are antioxidants?

Bean to bar dark chocolates are great for health because they tend to contain less sugar and are rich in antioxidants. However, what actually are antioxidants? Here’s a little infographic for you to better understand the importance of antioxidants in our everyday life!

Antioxidant Comparisons

At Benns, we believe in transparency and honesty, and wanted to make sure our bean to bar chocolates were actually as healthy as we believed them to be. What better way to do this than to put them to the test against commercial chocolates. As they say, the proof is in the (chocolate) pudding.

(1) 72% Dark Bean to Bar vs. 72% Commercial Chocolate
We carried out an antioxidant analysis comparing the 72% dark chocolate we bought from the market (commercial chocolates) and the 72% dark bean to bar chocolate we made using cacao beans from Sungai Ruan and Vung Tau estates.

From the results (shown in table 1.0) and consistent with other independent research, we were pleased our proposition empirically supported that bean to bar chocolates do contain much higher antioxidant properties than commercial dark chocolate, even if they of the same cocoa content. This is likely because in producing bean to bar chocolates, no artificial additives are used and no dutching processes (which reduce antioxidant count) are used, allowing the chocolate to retain more natural antioxidants of the cacao bean!

2) Cacao Nibs vs Berries
The second antioxidant comparison we did was between cacao nibs and berries.
Based on research done on the total phenolic content of common fruits and vegetables, we identified berries to contain one of the highest amounts of antioxidants. (refer to Figure 1.0 below )

Benns Chocolate carried out antioxidant testing for cacao nibs of three different origins (Malaysia, Vietnam, and Venezuela). The results show that Malaysian Cacao Nibs have up to 4 times higher the total phenolic content in some berries! Meanwhile, the Venezuela and Vietnam Cacao Nibs have a slightly lower total phenolic content which is still far above the phenolic antioxidant content of most fruits.

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Wang, H.; Cao, G.; Prior, R. L. Total antioxidant capacity of fruits. J. Agric. Food Chem. 1997, 44, 701-705. (10) Constantino, L.; Albasino, A.; Rastelli, G.; Benvenuti, S. Activity of polyphenolic crude extracts as scavengers of superoxide radicals and inhibitors of xanthine oxidase. Planta Med. 1992, 58, 342-344.
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(3) Cacao Tea vs. Berries, Coffee and Teas

Our third comparison was that of cacao tea with berries, coffees and teas.


Berries, Coffee and Teas

Based on research conducted by Marja P. Ka¨hko¨nen et al., in 2001, bilberry contains the highest antioxidant content followed by raspberry, strawberry, cowberry, and apple (see table 2)


Meanwhile, we conducted a study together with UCSI University and found that the total phenolic content of black tea and coffee were 3415.6 mg GAE/100 and 2459.7mg GAE/100g respectively.


After testing Benn’s Cacao Teas, we found that for Benn’s Vietnam Single Estate Cacao Tea, the TPC was highest yet at 3793.5mg GAE/100g! Meanwhile, Benns’ Malaysia Single Estate Cacao Tea had a TPC of 3366.0 mg GAE/100g. For a summary of the results and comparisons, refer to the table below.


Marja P. Ka¨hko¨nen, Anu I. Hopia, and Marina Heinonen, 2001, Berry Phenolics and Their Antioxidant Activity, J. Agric. Food Chem. 49, 4076-4082

(4) Antioxidant activity and Antioxidant properties


Our fourth comparison was that of cacao tea, coffee, green tea and black tea on Theobromine and caffeine content. 


What is Theobromine? It’s a compound that exists naturally in a variety of plants, most notably the cacao bean. (Other natural sources of theobromine include coffee beans, guarana berries, and some tea leaves.)


It was found that the second highest theobromine (140.22µg/mL)(Figure 1.0)  was in Benns Malaysia cacao tea but low in caffeine content (5.96mg/L) (Figure 1.1) as compared to all cacao tea origins!


Baggott et al. (2013) reported that appropriate intake of theobromine may contribute to the positive effects of chocolate, however at higher intake, the effect may become negative.


In view of the theobromine studies carried out by other researchers, the concentration of theobromine in cacao teas in this study was considered relatively low (120.14 to 164.98µg/mL) and safe to consume as this cacao tea was made from natural product (cacao beans).



(5) Sensory Evaluation


A Quantitative Descriptive Analysis (QDA) was conducted to evaluate the sensory attributes for cacao tea (Vietnam, Malaysia, and Venezuela), green tea, black tea and coffee. Twelve trained panellists were chosen to evaluate eight sensory attributes including sweetness, sourness, bitterness, astringency, chocolatey, grassiness, toasty and aromatic on a 15-cm line scale.



As shown in Table 1.1, Benns Vietnam cacao tea possessed the highest sweetness as compared to Malaysia and Venezuela cacao tea. Green tea, black tea, and coffee indicated a lower score as compared to cacao tea.


Benns Malaysia origin cacao tea perceived the strongest chocolatey profile (3.75), followed Venezuela origin cacao tea (2.88), and Vietnam origin cacao tea (2.28).


(6) Hedonic Survey


Hedonic survey was assessed to determine the degree of consumer acceptability of cacao tea (Vietnam, Malaysia, Venezuela) with comparison to green tea, black tea and coffee. 105 untrained respondents were requested to rate their liking using a 9-point hedonic scale. 


According to Table 1.2, Benns Vietnam origin cacao tea was the most acceptable sample with a mean hedonic score of 6.26! Based on the comments from respondents, Benns Vietnam origin cacao tea and Malaysia origin cacao tea had a nicer aroma compared to green tea, black tea and coffee.




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