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The Science of Chocolate

The Science of Chocolate

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

The New York Academy of Sciences

Presented By

Presented by Science & the City and the Chocolate Manufacturers Association


The Science of Chocolate will indulge in the rich history and science behind the creation of our favorite dessert.


Keynote Speaker:
Jeffrey Blumberg, The USDA Jean Mayer Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging and Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy, Tufts University

Presentations and Tastings:
Edward Seguine, VP, Research & Development, Guittard Chocolate Company
Rose Potts, Sensory Programs Manager, Blommer Chocolate Company

Reception with more chocolate tasting to follow.


The Science of Chocolate
Jeffrey Blumberg, PhD, FACN, CNS, Jean Mayer USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging, Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy

Evidence dating before 1000 B.C. of the consumption of chocolate beverages in Mesoamerica suggests the value and popularity of products from a tree named "the food of the gods," Theobroma cacao. Although it is now clear that a variety of factors contribute to the health benefits associated with consuming more plant foods, much research attention has recently been given to the polyphenols, phytochemicals with a broad array of potential bioactivity, including mechanisms that may reduce the risk for vascular conditions like heart disease, hypertension, and stroke. Apart from fruits and vegetables, cocoa products contribute to a major proportion of total polyphenol intake in Western countries because of their high concentration of flavonoids, particularly of a subclass called flavanols. Flavanols are also found in blueberries, red wine, and tea. Chocolate flavanols have been demonstrated in clinical studies to lower blood pressure, improve serum lipids, increase blood flow to the brain, inhibit blood clotting, reduce oxidative damage, and promote insulin sensitivity.

The Science of Food Series

To the chef, there is no greater experiment than attempting a new recipe. Cooking involves balancing a slew of chemical variables, from the acidity of a chocolate chip cookie dough (which factors into browning) to the moisture content of cheese (which can affect Mozzarella's elasticity). A basic understanding of food science can illuminate even the darkest kitchen pantry.

For this reason, the New York Academy of Sciences presents this ongoing series, The Science of Food, to explore the chemical processes and factors that go largely unnoticed in our own kitchens everyday. Experts in food science, biochemistry, and nutrition discuss the science of champagne, chocolate, taste and more—and share what they have learned about the complex interactions involved in every mouthful. Following each lecture, guests are invited to participate in a tasting of the food du jour.