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Shea oil in chocolate

Coffee-infused nougat in a bed of chocolate. Sounds great. Tastes great. Had one the other day and really enjoyed it. Then, wondering how they got to this wonderful taste, I had a look at the ingredients as per the label.

Ain’t gonna bore you with all the good stuff – and junk – they put in these chocolate bars but one particular ingredient caught the attention: shea oil.

Shea nutsHeaded over to Wikipedia for more info on shea nuts and found it rather interesting:

Vitellaria paradoxa, also classified as Butyrospermum parkii and B. paradoxa, commonly known as shea tree, is a tree of the Sapotaceae family indigenous to Africa, occurring in Mali, Cameroon, Congo, Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana, Guinea, Togo, Nigeria, Senegal, Sudan, Burkina Faso and Uganda. The shea fruit consists of a thin, tart, nutritious pulp that surrounds a relatively large, oil-rich seed from which shea butter is extracted.

The Shea tree is a traditional African food plant. It has been claimed to have potential to improve nutrition, boost food supply in the “annual hungry season”, foster rural development and support sustainable land care.

The tree is perennial and starts bearing its first fruits when 10–15 years old; full production is attained when the tree is about 20–30 years. It then produces nuts for up to 200 years. The fruits resemble large plums and take 4–6 months to ripen. The average yield is 15–20 kilograms of fresh fruit per tree, with optimum yields up to 45 kg. Each kilogram of fruit gives approximately 400 grams of dry seeds.

Shea butter phenolics compounds are known to have antioxidant properties. The phenolic profile is similar to that of green tea, and the total phenolic content of shea butter is comparable to virgin olive oil.

Shea nut “butter” has many uses and may or may not be refined. In the West, shea butter is mostly used for cosmetics. Throughout Africa it is used extensively for food and medicinal purposes, and is a major source of dietary fat. The fruit is edible and delicious. It tastes roughly like a fig.

Coffee-infused chocolate or Orangutans

The chocolate mentioned is the Nestlé Bar One, sold in India and South Africa. Particularly tasty if you also happen to be a coffee addict.

But, unfortunately, there is no real coffee in it; only a coffee flavorant. It also contains palm oil. Their bad. Real bad. Because “due to the massive international demand on palm oil, palm oil plantations are rapidly replacing the rainforest habitat of the critically endangered orangutan; with over 90% of their habitat already destroyed” according to Say No To Palmoil.

“Orangutan means ‘Person of the jungle’ in the Indonesian language. It is estimated that 6 to 12 of these ‘jungle people’ are killed each day for palm oil.”

So, it’s a BIG NO to chocolates (or any other product) that contains palm oil and a big YES to chocolates that do not contain palm oil.

Chocolates without palm oil

For more info about orangutans and palm oil, also see World Wildlife Fund and Greenpeace.

30/05/2012. Category: Raves & Rants. Topic: .

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