Cocoa Powder Health Benefits
The superfood of all superfoods, cacao—the dried seeds at the root of chocolate—is also one of the highest sources of magnesium in nature, full of antioxidants, calcium, zinc, copper and selenium. Cacao contains more antioxidants per gram than blueberries, goji berries, red wine, raisins, prunes and even pomegranates.
Next time you crave for chocolate, make your own chocolate with cocoa powder with jaggery or stevia. Its a healthy saturated fat and boost metabolism.
Health Benefits of Cocoa Powder
- Cocoa is rich in polyphenols, which have significant health benefits, including reduced inflammation and improved cholesterol levels. However, processing cocoa into chocolate or other products can substantially decrease the polyphenol content.
- Cocoa is rich in flavanols, which lower blood pressure by improving nitric oxide levels and blood vessel function.
- Cocoa can improve blood flow and reduce cholesterol. Eating up to one serving of chocolate per day may reduce your risk of heart attack, heart failure and stroke.
- Flavanols in cocoa can support neuron production, brain function and improve blood flow and supply to brain tissue. They may have a role in preventing age-related brain degeneration, such as in Alzheimer’s disease.
- Cocoa may exert some positive effects on mood and symptoms of depression by reducing stress levels and improving calmness, contentment and overall psychological well-being.
- Cocoa and dark chocolate may reduce your risk of diabetes and maintain healthy blood sugar levels.
- Cocoa products are associated with a lower weight, and the addition of cocoa to your diet may help achieve faster weight loss.
- Cocoa can promote healthy teeth by fighting bacteria that cause cavities, though this does not apply to sugar-containing products. It also promotes healthy skin by protecting it from sunlight and improving circulation, the skin surface and hydration.
Add cocoa to your diet:
- Eat dark chocolate: Make sure it’s good quality and contains at least 70% cocoa.
- Hot/cold cocoa: Mix cocoa with your favorite dairy or nondairy milk for a chocolate milkshake.
- Smoothies: Cocoa can be added to your favorite healthy smoothie recipe to give it a richer, chocolatey taste.
- Puddings: You can add raw cocoa powder to homemade puddings like chia breakfast puddings or rice pudding.
- Vegan chocolate mousse: Process avocado, cocoa, almond milk and a sweetener like dates for a thick vegan chocolate mousse.
- Sprinkle over fruit: Cocoa is particularly nice sprinkled over bananas or strawberries.
- Granola bars: Add cocoa to your favorite granola bar mixture to bump up the health benefits and enrich the flavor.
Side Effects of Cocoa Powder
But keep in mind that cocoa contains caffeine and related chemicals. Eating large amounts might cause caffeine-related side effects such as nervousness, increased urination, sleeplessness, and a fast heartbeat. Cocoa can cause allergic skin reactions, constipation, and might trigger migraine headaches.
Health benefits of cocoa include decreased inflammation, improved heart and brain health, blood sugar and weight control and healthy teeth and skin.
It’s nutritious and easy to add to your diet in creative ways. However, make sure to use dark cocoa powder or unsweetened cocoa powder if you want to maximize health benefits.
Standard dark chocolate with at least 70% cocoa is a good source of beneficial antioxidants and minerals.