Cocoa Butter: The Fat Parametre
You might have heard of the name cocoa butter pomade, chocolate bars, chocolate cake, and chocolate chip ice cream and might not have consciously realized that it is actually coming from cocoa. Of course, it is coming from cocoa butter and cocoa powder with other ingredients.
Cocoa butter, also called theobroma oil, is a pale-yellow, edible fat extracted from the cocoa bean. It is used to make chocolate, as well as some toiletries, ointment and pharmaceuticals (Encyclopaedia Britannica. July 1998. Retrieved 28th August 2020).
The fat is actually the cocoa butter. Cocoa fat or butter has many uses which will be talked about later in this article.
Cocoa fat or butter is known to be one of the most stable fats in the world because it contains antioxidants that inhibit rancidity and allow storage life of two to five years. Its use with other fats improves their stability.
The processes used to treat cocoa fat or butter to remove aroma and colour also removes antioxidants, increasing susceptibility to rancidity. The process of treating cocoa butter to remove odour or aroma through the application of heat is called deodorization. In other words, deodorization destroys the natural composition of cocoa fat.
Fat analysis of cocoa is done in the lab to know the amount of fat in the cocoa because of customer specification. The higher the fat, the more expensive the cocoa is.
Clay Gordon, the creator of the Chocolate Life website had once said this: “in the absence of nibs, white chocolate is basically just sweet fat, with a melt without being impeded by the nonfat cocoa solids, or cocoa powder.”
For chocolate to be labelled as chocolate, as opposed to candy, the Food and Drug Administration of the United States of America requires that the bar be made up of at least 10 per cent cocoa mass (nibs plus the cocoa fat inherent in the bean), with no specifications about cocoa butter.
For chocolate to be labelled as white chocolate, it must contain nothing less than 20 per cent cocoa butter according to the FDA of the United States of America (FDA of the United States of America is cited because USA is among the top ten cocoa consuming countries).
The cocoa bean naturally contains a high amount of fat, about 45-55% of its weight with some new varieties containing higher amounts being developed through research.
There are variations in the fatty acid composition of the triacylglycerides in cocoa beans which may be attributable to the ambient temperatures prevailing at where the cocoa was grown.
Other factors that might affect the fat composition include edaphic factors and shading. The composition of fatty acids of the triacylglycerides is mainly 26.5 % palmitic, 35.4% stearic, 34.7% oleic and 3.4% linoleic and others which are available in traces (Quao, 2010).
The physics and chemistry of cocoa beans are very complex and change throughout the life of the bean, mainly depending on the processing it receives and on geographical origin.
As stated above, the main component of cocoa beans is the lipid fraction, approximately 50%, mainly constituted by neutral lipids, with a predominant fraction of triglyceride or triacylglyceride molecules.
According to Zak and Keeney (1976), protein fraction constitutes 10–15% of the dry weight of cocoa seeds, and according to Voigt, Bierhl and Wazir (1993), it is composed of 52% and 43% of albumin and globulin fractions, respectively.
Other proteins, such as glutelins and prolamins, are present in lower concentrations. Cocoa beans contain stimulant substances, such as theobromine, caffeine, and theophylline, named purinic alkaloids, which affect the central nervous system. Various bioactive compounds with vasoactive effects have also been reported in cocoa beans.
Benefits of Cocoa Fat or Butter
Cocoa fat or butter is rich in fatty acids which gives it its ability to hydrate and nourish the skin and also improve its elasticity. The fat in cocoa butter forms a protective layer over the skin which controls its moisture content.
Cocoa fat is also rich in natural plant compounds called phytochemicals. These substances may improve blood flow to the skin and slow skin ageing by protecting against damage from the sun’s harmful UV rays.
One common use of cocoa fat is to smoothen scars, wrinkles, and other marks on the skin. Many women believe cocoa butter creams and lotions can be used during and after pregnancy to prevent and minimize the appearance of stretch marks. It has also been promoted to heal rashes from conditions like eczema and dermatitis.
So What Is The Bottomline
Many people use cocoa fat or butter because they like how it feels on their skin, or they believe it improves their skin’s appearance. There is no harm in trying one of these products—unless you’re sensitive to cocoa fat.
You can find cocoa butter formulas in supermarkets, pharmacies, online, and at natural food stores. If you are concerned about additives, buy 100 per cent cocoa butter and make your own skincare products.
Remember, these products have not been proven to improve skin tone, fade wrinkles, or reduce stretch marks. Most evidence supporting these claims are anecdotal.
If you are seeking treatment for a specific skincare need, consult your doctor or dermatologist. They can help develop a skincare regimen that best suits your needs.
Note that it is better to use 100% cocoa butter. It is a fact that the best natural premium cocoa comes from Ghana.
You have been using a cocoa product for a long time, yet you are not experiencing the expected effect, know that the product you are using may not be concentrated enough with natural cocoa butter. Your best bet is to get unrefined premium cocoa butter from Ghana for better results.