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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.

Wang, H.; Cao, G.; Prior, R. L. Total antioxidant capacity of fruits. J. Agric. Food Chem. 1996, 44, 701-705.
Macheix, J.-J.; Fleuriet, A.; Billot, J. Fruit Phenolics; CRC Press: Boca Raton, FL, 1990.
Heinonen, I. M.; Meyer, A. S.; Frankel, E. N. Antioxidant activity of berry phenolics on human low-density lipoprotein and liposome oxidation. J. Agric. Food Chem. 1998, 46, 4107-4112.
Wang, S. Y.; Jiao, H. Scavenging capacity of berry crops on superoxide radicals, hydrogen peroxide, hydroxyl radicals, and singlet oxygen. J. Agric. Food Chem. 2000, 48, 5672-5676.
Prior, R. L.; Cao, G.; Martin, A.; Sofic, E.; McEwen, J.; O’Brien, C.; Lischner, N.; Ehlenfeldt, M.; Kalt, W.; Krewer, G.; Mainland, C. M. Antioxidant capacity as influenced by total phenolic and anthocyanin content, maturity, and variety of Vaccinium species. J. Agric. Food Chem. 1998, 46, 2686-2693.
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.
Marja P. Ka¨hko¨nen, Anu I. Hopia, and Marina Heinonen. Berry Phenolics and Their Antioxidant Acitivity. J.Agric. Food Chem. 2001, 49, 4076-4082.


(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


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