Cocoa solids

Dry cocoa solids are the components of cocoa beans remaining after cocoa butter, the fatty component of the bean, is extracted from chocolate liquor, roasted cocoa beans that have been ground into a liquid state. Cocoa butter is 46% to 57% of the weight of cocoa beans and gives chocolate its characteristic melting properties. Cocoa powder is the powdered form of the dry solids with a small remaining amount of cocoa butter. Untreated cocoa powder is bitter and acidic. Dutch process cocoa has been treated with an alkali to neutralize the acid.

Press cake after extraction of cocoa butter

Cocoa powder contains flavanols, amounts of which are reduced if the cocoa is subjected to acid-reducing alkalization.[1]

Physical properties

Dutch process cocoa (left) compared to Broma process, or "natural", cocoa (right)

Natural cocoa

Natural cocoa powder is extracted with the Broma process where after the cocoa fats have been removed from the chocolate nibs the remaining dry cocoa beans are ground into cocoa powder, which is sold to consumers. Natural cocoa powder has a light-brown color and an extractable pH of 5.3 to 5.8.[1][2]

Because of its acidity, natural cocoa is often paired in recipes with baking soda. This neutralizes the acidity and creates carbon dioxide which in cakes helps them rise.

Dutch process cocoa

Dutch process cocoa or Dutched cocoa[3] is cocoa powder that has been treated with an alkalizing agent to modify its color, neutralize its pH and give it a milder taste compared to "natural cocoa".[3] It forms the basis for much of modern chocolate, and is used in ice cream, hot chocolate, and baking.

The alkalization process reduces bitterness and improves solubility, which is important for beverage product applications.[4] Alkalizing agents employed vary, but include potassium carbonate or sodium carbonate.


Cocoa, dry powder, unsweetened
Nutritional value per 100 g (3.5 oz)
Energy954 kJ (228 kcal)
57.90 g of which fibre approx. 33 g
13.70 g
19.60 g
128 mg
13.86 mg
499 mg
3.837 mg
734 mg
1524 mg
21 mg
6.81 mg
Other constituentsQuantity
Water3.00 g
Caffeine230 mg
Theobromine2060 mg

Percentages are roughly approximated using US recommendations for adults.
Source: USDA FoodData Central

Cocoa powder is 58% carbohydrates, 14% fat, 20% protein, and 3% water (table). It contains several minerals in rich content (having a Daily Value of 20% or higher), including manganese, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, iron, and zinc, while calcium levels are moderate (table).[5]


Cocoa powder is rich in flavonoids (especially flavan-3-ols),[6] a subset of polyphenols. The amount of flavonoids depends on the amount of processing and manufacturing the cocoa powder undergoes. Alkalization, also known as Dutch processing, causes its content of flavonoids to be substantially reduced.[1][7][8]


Cadmium content

Cocoa powders may contain cadmium, a toxic heavy metal and probable carcinogen, found naturally in high levels in the soil of some regions of cocoa-producing countries. The European Union has imposed a limit (as of 1 January 2019) for cadmium in cocoa powder of 0.6 µg per gram of cocoa powder and 0.8 µg per gram for chocolate with ≥ 50% total dry cocoa solids.[9] In Canada, a daily serving of a natural health product must contain no more than 6 µg of cadmium for an individual weighing 150 pounds (68 kg) and 3 µg for a 75 lb (34 kg) individual.[10] While the US government has not set a limit for cadmium in foods or health products, the state of California has established a maximum allowable daily level of oral cadmium exposure of 4.1 µg and requires products containing more than this amount per daily serving to bear a warning on the label.[11] One investigation by an independent consumer testing laboratory found that seven of nine commercially available cocoa powders and nibs selected for testing contained more than 0.3 µg of cadmium per serving gram; five of these products exceeded the EU limit of 0.6 µg per gram.[7]

See also


  1. Miller, Kenneth B.; Jeffery Hurst, William; Payne, Mark J.; Stuart, David A.; Apgar, Joan; Sweigart, Daniel S.; Ou, Boxin (2008). "Impact of Alkalization on the Antioxidant and Flavanol Content of Commercial Cocoa Powders". Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry. 56 (18): 8527–8533. doi:10.1021/jf801670p. PMID 18710243.
  2. Materials Handled Cocoa Powder: Overview Archived 2014-04-07 at the Wayback Machine. Retrieved: 2 April 2014.
  3. "Art of Darkness II: Cocoa : Good Eats". Food Network. 2009-11-16. Archived from the original on 2008-09-17. Retrieved 2013-05-27.
  4. Materials Handled Cocoa Powder: Overview Archived 2014-04-07 at the Wayback Machine. Retrieved: 2 April 2014.
  5. "Cocoa, dry powder, unsweetened per 100 g". USDA FoodData Central. 2020. Retrieved 19 February 2021.
  6. Zięba K, Makarewicz-Wujec M, Kozłowska-Wojciechowska (2019). "Cardioprotective Mechanisms of Cocoa". Journal of the American College of Nutrition. 38 (6): 564–575. doi:10.1080/07315724.2018.1557087. PMID 30620683. S2CID 58582304.
  7. "Product Review: Cocoa Powders, Dark Chocolate, Extracts, Nibs, & Supplements". LLC. 17 May 2014. Retrieved 10 February 2015.
  8. "Chocolate Terms". Retrieved 2013-05-27.
  9. "Commission Regulation (EU) No 488/2014 of 12 May 2014: Amending Regulation (EC) No 1881/2006 as regards maximum levels of cadmium in foodstuffs". 2014-05-12. Retrieved 22 August 2016.
  10. "Quality of natural health products guide". 20 August 2012. Retrieved 22 August 2016.
  11. "Proposition 65 Maximum Allowable Daily Level (MADL) for Reproductive Toxicity for Cadmium (Oral Route)" (PDF). Retrieved 22 August 2016.
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