Cocoa butter – intolerance and allergy

Cocoa butter

Cocoa butter is the light yellow fat obtained from cocoa nibs or cocoa liquor by pressing and centrifuging after fermentation, drying and roasting.

Cocoa butter is mainly used in the food industry for the production of chocolate and nougat, but also in the cosmetics industry as an additive in skin and body care products. Due to the high proportion of saturated fatty acids and the low proportion of unsaturated fatty acids, it can be kept for up to two years if stored properly.

Here’s what you should know about cocoa butter

The light yellow cocoa butter is obtained from cocoa beans or raw cocoa after a multi-stage process that all cocoa beans go through, by pressing or centrifuging. The home of the cacao tree is most likely the rainforest of Brazil and its use in Central America dates back at least 1,000 BC. occupied.

In the meantime, the cocoa tree, which likes it a bit shady and depends on sufficient rainfall, is cultivated in almost all of the tropical regions close to the equator up to 20 degrees north and south latitude in small farms and in large plantations in a large variety of varieties. The large cacao pods, weighing around 500 g and containing up to 50 seeds, the actual cacao beans, are harvested all year round under favorable conditions, so that one cannot speak of a definite harvest season. The fruits, which grow directly on the trunk, are carefully knocked off and the shell is broken open.

The collected whipped fruit is mostly collected in vats, and the white, sugary pulp (fruit pulp) is left to ferment without any other ingredients. The mixture heats up to about 50 degrees Celsius, and during the fermentation process, which lasts about 7 to 10 days, the cocoa beans lose some of their bitter substances and gain their typical chocolate taste. The cocoa beans are then dried in the sun or in drying ovens and shrink to about half their original size. The further processing of the cocoa beans usually takes place in the consumer countries of Europe and North America. There the cocoa beans are cleaned, thermally pre-treated and roasted at 100 to 140 degrees Celsius.

After the cocoa beans have been crushed and peeled, the so-called broken cocoa nibs obtained are refined and various undesirable flavors and aromas are removed. The portion of the refined cocoa nibs intended for the production of cocoa powder is liquefied again by heating to 80 to 90 degrees Celsius and the liquid fat, the clear, light yellow cocoa butter, is pressed out under high pressure using hydraulic presses. When it cools down, the cocoa butter solidifies and already exudes its typical chocolate aroma. Depending on the intended use, the cocoa butter is subjected to a further refinement process.

importance to health

Cocoa butter is over 99 percent different fats, which may sound daunting at first because many people associate the consumption of fats with an increase in their cholesterol levels . However, this blanket assumption is not tenable.

For example, in recent years it has been shown that saturated fatty acids, which make up about 61 percent of cocoa butter, have no detectable effect on serum cholesterol. Rather, there is a danger from so-called trans fats, which increase the low-density lipoproteins (LDL) and lower the high-density lipoproteins ( HDL ), so that the quotient LDL to HDL is negatively influenced. This increases the risk of developing arteriosclerosis .

Unlike many manufactured products that are made using hydrogenated fats and have high levels of trans fats in their total fat content, cocoa butter contains very low levels of trans fats. Cocoa butter has no demonstrable effect on cholesterol levels. Cocoa butter contains a lot of flavor and aroma substances because most of these substances are fat-soluble and remain in the cocoa butter when pressed out. A certain health aspect is provided by their content of the fat-soluble vitamin K and a significant content of potassium .

Vitamin K is essential for a number of metabolic processes . It plays an important role in the complex chain of blood clotting and in the mineralization of bones , so it influences bone density. Potassium is an important mineral, the lack of which leads to heart rhythm problems, among other things.

Ingredients & nutritional values

Unlike butter made from cow’s milk , cocoa butter contains almost no water, so its fat content is around 99.5 percent. At the same time, this means that cocoa butter cannot contain any other primary plant compounds such as proteins, carbohydrates and fibre . Their nutritional value is correspondingly high at 884 kcal or 3,682 kJ per 100 g.

The fat content is broken down into saturated fats (61%), unsaturated fatty acids (31%) and polyunsaturated fatty acids (3%). The saturated fatty acids are mainly made up of palmitic acid (25%) and stearic acid (35%), while the monosaturated fatty acid consists almost exclusively of oleic acid. Other ingredients include a small proportion of polyunsaturated fatty acids (2.3%), vitamin K (15 µg/100 g) and the mineral potassium (1 mg/100 g).

Intolerances & allergies

Cocoa butter is not normally consumed on its own, but almost always as an ingredient in chocolate or confectionery, or as an ingredient in special dishes and pastries. Direct intolerances or allergies to cocoa butter are therefore not known. If an intolerance or allergy to foods that contain cocoa butter occurs, it is usually the other ingredients that are the possible triggers.

This also applies to chocolate, which usually always contains cocoa butter. It is often a question of histamine intolerance, which in rare cases leads to symptoms after eating the food containing cocoa butter. Cocoa butter itself is low in histamine and other biogenic amines and also low in histamine-triggering substances that could lead to an allergic reaction with the body’s own release of histamine.

Shopping & kitchen tips

Cocoa butter is produced all year round and is therefore available all year round. Pure cocoa butter is not available in every grocery store or fruit and vegetable store, but it is available in well-stocked organic supermarkets and in all variations online.

Cocoa butter is usually offered in the recommended organic quality, for example in broken form, as a block or in the form of small flakes or chips, which make it easier to dose as an ingredient for dishes. Since cocoa butter is also a carrier of many aromas and flavors, it tastes and smells different depending on the type of cocoa it was made from. It is therefore sometimes offered as a single variety. Cocoa butter has a shelf life of one to two years when stored in a cool place and protected from light.

Preparation tips

A special physical property of cocoa butter is that it is already very soft at room temperature and melts in the mouth at almost body temperature. An excellent chocolate can be made from approximately equal amounts of cocoa powder, cocoa butter and sugar by carefully melting it, which can be given a special note by adding hot spices or fruits or various liqueurs.

There are no limits to your imagination and willingness to experiment. Cakes and other pastries are given particularly tasty flavors by partially replacing the butter with cocoa butter.

Lisa Newlon
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Hello! I am Lisa Newlon, and I am a medical writer and researcher with over 10 years of experience in the healthcare industry. I have a Master’s degree in Medicine, and my deep understanding of medical terminology, practices, and procedures has made me a trusted source of information in the medical world.