Antioxidants & ORAC Explanation and Comparisons

Some people might be skeptical about our claim that Sacred Chocolate is TWICE as high in antioxidant content as compared to a cooked, roasted, or otherwise high temperature processed chocolate bar at the same cacao content.  As a result, here is an analysis showing how we derive our claim.

The standard method of measuring the antioxidant value of a food is called an Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity (ORAC) test.  Brunswick Laboratories, an independent lab, conducted the ORAC test on our Ginger Recipe, known as “Gingeroo”. The Gingeroo has a 57% cacao content, and the ORAC score tested out to be 343 umoleTE/g.  View the lab reports here.  (Note that this score is reported on a per gram basis.  Most ORAC scores are reported on a per 100 gram basis.  When making a comparison, please be sure to do the proper unit conversions!)


(Note that in many cases the words “cocoa” and “cacao” are used interchangeably on chocolate bar labels, and for the purposes of this discussion, they are the same, except that “cocoa” is typically a heat treated product.)

Let’s look at some comparisons:

The USDA lists an ORAC value ("TOTAL-ORAC") for traditionally processed cocoa powder (search the PDF document for NDB No. "19165") ranging from 72,000 to 87,500 umoleTE/100g or 720 to 875 umoleTE/g. (Note that this is cocoa powder that has been typically produced at hydraulic press temperatures exceeding 300 degrees Fahrenheit. Plus, the cocoa or cacao beans may have been roasted before being pressed).  All cocoa or cacao powders have been stripped of the cocoa or cacao butter naturally occurring in the cacao bean.  This is typically achieved by pressing this butter out of the bean at very high pressures and temperatures using hydraulic presses.  The cacao bean naturally has approximately 50% cacao butter content plus or minus 5%.  Most cocoa powders have a cocoa butter content of about 10 to 20%.  Hershey's reports 10% in their cocoa as an example (.5 gram fat in a 5 gram serving).  We will assume that the USDA tested Hershey's unsweetened dry cocoa powder.  There are negligible antioxidants in the actual cacao butter.  Therefore, in order to compare the Gingeroo to high temperature processed cocoa powder, we need to do a little math.  At this point, it is important to note that 57% is the total cacao content in Gingeroo, not the total cacao SOLIDS content, which comprises 90% of the cocoa powder. And since we add approximately 20% cacao BUTTER to the Gingeroo Chocolate, that 57% number is actually REDUCED in the final equation.  In other words, the total cacao content in the Gingeroo is approximately 70% cacao butter and 30% cacao solids (since we added approximately 20% extra cacao butter to the cacao beans which are already at 50% cacao butter content).  Therefore, this is how the math works out: 343 / (.57 x .30) = 2006, which is the actual ORAC value of the Gingeroo cacao solids. Assuming an average value of 810 for the cocoa powder, we need to divide this by .9 to take into account the 10% cacao butter content in the cocoa powder.  810 / .9 = 900.  Therefore, Gingeroo is over double the ORAC value of high temperature processed cocoa powder on a per cacao content SOLIDS basis.  Please note that the amount of ginger added to the recipe is approximately 1% and the ORAC value of ginger is 148 (NDB No. 11216); thus, the added ginger has negligible effects on the calculation and comparison.

Unsweetened baking chocolate has 99 to 100% total cacao content.  Dark chocolate usually has 65% to 80% total cacao content.  Semi-sweet chocolate usually has 50 to 65% total cacao content.  Total cacao content consists of cacao solids plus cacao butter, and in most cases, chocolate has about 0 to 20% ADDED cacao butter.

Looking at USDA's listings for unsweetened baking chocolate (NDB No. 19078), dark chocolate (NDB No. 99412) and semi-sweet chocolate (NDB No. 99412), we see the following ORAC value ranges:

Type of Chocolate minimum maximum mean
Unsweetened Baking Chocolate (TOTAL-ORAC) 202 1052 499
Dark Chocolate (TOTAL-ORAC): 152 246 208
Semi-Sweet Chocolate (TOTAL-ORAC): 174 190 181
Sacred Chocolate Gingeroo (TOTAL-ORAC):     343

(Note:  ORAC units are umoleTE/g.  I have converted the USDA reported values to a per gram basis by dividing them by 100.)

Gingeroo is a semi-sweet chocolate at 57% total cacao content.  Comparing the above figures, it has nearly double the ORAC value of the average semi-sweet chocolate bar tested by the USDA, and 65% higher ORAC value than the average dark chocolate bar tested by the USDA.

In the future, we plan to do more testing and analysis.  We will post our findings on this website.

Category: Nutritional Characteristics
Posted: Sunday, March 7, 2010 10:41:00 PM
Views: 17549
Synopsis: Some people might be skeptical about our claim that Sacred Chocolate is TWICE as high in antioxidant content as compared to a cooked, roasted, or otherwise high temperature processed chocolate bar at the same cacao content.  As a result, here is an analysis showing how we derive our claim.