One of the more recent studies on cocoa, conducted by scientists at the Hershey Center for Health and Nutrition and published in the journal Chemistry Central (Feb 2011), found cocoa to be an antioxidant-rich superfruit, and demonstrated that cocoa powder offered “significantly” more antioxidant power per gram than the powder forms of superfruits such as acai, blueberry, cranberry and pomegranate.
That research lent additional credence to a 20-year observational study of cocoa consumption led by Harvard University’s Dr. Norman K. Hollenberg, which found that the Kuna Indians, particularly those living on the San Blas Islands off the Panama Coast, have healthier hearts and good circulatory health as they age. The Kuna’s daily consumption of five cups of cocoa was of special interest to researchers of cardiovascular health. According to the Harvard study, Kuna islanders experience 1/9 the rate of heart-related conditions and 1/16 the rate of other age-related conditions as mainlanders.
Inspired by Dr. Hollenberg’s research, a three-product line of supplements called CocoaWell showcase the high antioxidant potency of cocoa. “CocoaWell is the fair trade, efficient way to add the antioxidant-rich cocoa ‘superfruit’ to the diet—without the calories, fat and sugar of chocolate,” explained Naomi Whittel, founder of the CocoaWell brand, which supplies products to Reserveage Organics and ResVitale for GNC. “One 450 mg capsule contains the flavanol antioxidant equivalent of eight 100 gm bars of dark chocolate.”
The first of the three CocoaWell supplements is called Maximum Potency Organic Cocoa. Packed with 450 mg of pure cocoa flavanols, the product is formulated with 100% Pure and Organic Cocoa from the rainforests of South America, and is infused with Green Tea and Acacia Catechu.
The second product in the line is True Energy with AdaptoStress3, which the company claims to be the latest “innovation in energy supplementation.” The product is said to provide energy that “fuels your body, all while reducing the effects of daily stress.” It is formulated with a proprietary AdaptoStress blend of adaptogenic herbs including Ashwagandha, Rhodiola and Schisandra, and all natural caffeine from InnovaTea.
The third product in the line is Advanced CoQ10 Heart, which combines cocoa and 200 mg CoQ10 per serving with green tea and acacia catechu flavanols to provide cardiovascular support.
The formulas are all made with non-GMO cocoa beans, free of pesticides, herbicides, fungicides and synthetic fertilizers.
The CocoaWell brand also has a conscience. Mr. Whittel said CocoaWell will contribute three percent of product profits to the non-profit Kuna Institute , which is dedicated to helping replant thousands of cacao trees where the Kuna people live, providing jobs and steady income, and enabling the Kuna people to pursue their traditional livelihood of cocoa harvesting.
CocoaWell isn’t the only brand working to ensure the sustainability of cocoa quality. Barry Callebaut, the world’s leading manufacturer of cocoa and chocolate products, recently launched an extensive agronomic research program in Malaysia aimed at developing new and sustainable cocoa cultivation techniques.
The goal of the program is to yield new insights into practical measures for boosting the sustainability, productivity and quality of cocoa production—and hence profitability for local farmers in a responsible and sustainable manner. Covering a total area of 10 hectares of an existing cocoa plantation, the program constitutes a large scale experiment testing a wide variety of pragmatic variables relevant to the Asian region.
The research program is being conducted in collaboration with the Malaysian company Kuala Lumpur Kepong Berhad. The trials will be carried out under a variety of conditions in both new and existing plantations. Several agricultural techniques and good agriculture practices (GAP) will be tested, including new pruning and grafting techniques, the use of organic fertilizers, other organic cultivation techniques and agro-forestry principles. A further area of focus will be improved post-harvest cocoa treatment techniques to improve Malaysian cocoa bean quality to achieve “zero-defect” status.
“Securing the future of the cocoa industry demands that we find more sustainable cultivation methods now,” commented Hans Vriens, Barry Callebaut’s chief innovation officer. “This important program is proving key to our overarching goal of boosting the viability of cocoa production by improving both quality and productivity and, by doing so, increasing incomes for local farmers and their communities.”
Preparations are already underway for the rehabilitation and planting of the experimental plots. The first preliminary results are expected in June 2012.