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Diet Lifestyle Nutrition

What Makes Chocolate So Appealing May Also Make It Bad

1 month, 3 weeks ago

1485  0
Posted on May 30, 2024, 3 p.m.

Oh no, say it isn’t so! Chocolate and sweet snack lovers most likely won’t like the findings of a study recently published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry suggesting that some of the things that make chocolate so appealing could also mix together with other sweets and damage our DNA. The American Chemical Society found that some of the compounds in chocolate responsible for the decadent smell and taste could potentially carry unwanted health risks in high concentrations.

During the process of making chocolate, cocoa beans are roasted to help enhance the smell and taste. However, new molecules are formed during this process such as α,β-unsaturated carbonyls when they react with other ingredients under high temperatures. This class of molecules is highly reactive and can be potentially genotoxic, meaning that they can cause DNA damage. 

Carbonyls are naturally found in many foods, and they are also used as flavoring additives. Some carbonyls have also been banned in the European Union such as the buttery-tasting furan-2(5H)-one. To better understand how these molecules form naturally and whether they are present in harmful levels the researchers tested chocolates and other sweet treats for 10 different α,β-unsaturated carbonyls. Some of the carbonyls tested have been confirmed to be safe by the European Food Safety Authority and others are still under evaluation. 

The researchers report that after creating their own chocolate, α,β-unsaturated carbonyls formed during roasting and after the addition of cocoa butter. However, the concentrations were found to remain too low to pose any health concerns from consuming the chocolates. 

Then the team screened 22 commercially available packaged desserts, including crepes, waffles, cakes, and biscuits, either with or without chocolate. The team reported finding even lower concentrations of nine of the 10 carbonyls compared to the chocolates.

However, the remaining carbonyl, genotoxic furan-2(5H)-one, was found in much higher concentrations within the crepe and cake samples, reaching up to 4.3 milligrams per kilogram. Since the recommended threshold for genotoxic substances is 0.15 micrograms per day, consuming these desserts could exceed that limit.

Although additional research is required to accurately assess the potential health risks the researchers concluded that the furan-2(5H)-one molecule likely formed during the baking process and did not appear to correlate with the amount of chocolate that was present in the packaged desserts. They also highlight the importance of monitoring flavorings used in food to continue keeping consumers informed and safe. 

As with anything you read on the internet, this article should not be construed as medical advice; please talk to your doctor or primary care provider before changing your wellness routine. This article is not intended to provide a medical diagnosis, recommendation, treatment, or endorsement. These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. 

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T.W. at WHN

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