Cocoa trees & # 39; stressed out & # 39; can make chocolate tastier, according to a study


Chocolates are irresistible and many health experts have described them as healthy in some way or another. However, it seems that scientists have found a way to make chocolates a little tastier. According to a study published in the Journal of Agriculture and Food Chemistry of the American Chemical Society, the different conditions that can put pressure on cocoa trees may offer a better version of chocolates. Cocoa trees grow in warm, humid climates near the equator. Traditionally, these trees are raised together in mixed forests with other types of trees and plants that can cool the air and provide vital shade. The system, called agroforestry, provides a low-stress environment, increases the nutrients in the soil and helps maintain groundwater levels.

However, to obtain higher yields, producers sometimes plant cacao trees in solitary, "monocultural" groves in which the trees are exposed to stressful conditions. In response to stress, trees produce antioxidants that can counteract the damage, but these compounds could also change the quality characteristics of beans.

The researchers went on to harvest beans from five cocoa farms in Bolivia at the beginning and end of the dry season, which runs from April to September. The trees were raised in monocultural forests in full sun or in agroforestry environments. The beans were fermented and dried, then badyzed. The research team detected only small differences in the chemical composition between the grains harvested on the farms during the same weather conditions. A little more phenols and other antioxidant compounds were detected in the beans taken from trees grown in monocultures than those that came from trees grown with agroforestry methods, but the differences were not significant.

The greatest contribution to chemical composition was climate. In general, the antioxidant content increased and the fat content of the grains decreased during the dry season as temperatures rose and soil moisture dropped.

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