The benefits of cocoa and dark chocolate are endless!
I discovered cocoa at a very young age when my mother prepared it as a hot beverage for my brother and me to drink when we religiously fasted.
My grandmother always told us that cocoa could provide us with all the vitamins and nutrients our bodies needed during fasting.
The Aztecs and Mayans used to cultivate the cocoa plant, which they called “Food of the Gods.” Only the wealthiest had access to it. (1)
Cocoa powder is made by crushing cocoa beans.
It is now famous for its role in producing our favorite chocolate and chocolate drinks.
Modern research has revealed that cocoa contains excellent ingredients, benefiting our diet and health.
What you will read about the benefits of cocoa and dark chocolate
Cocoa was considered an aphrodisiac ingredient.
We now know from studies that it drastically reduces oxidative stress, blood pressure, and atherosclerosis.
Today’s article will discover cocoa’s properties and nutritional value, as well as how many calories it contains. You will also learn how its antioxidant benefits help prevent cancer, heart disease, Alzheimer’s, enhance weight and fat loss, and how it relaxes and improves memory.
In addition, you will find it can help prevent heart disease and lowers blood pressure and cholesterol. Finally, you will learn its help in dealing with anxiety and depression, if it has side effects, and how you can prepare a hot cocoa drink.
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This incredible superfood will also become one of your favorite daily habits; it reactivates every cell of your body and happily compensates you for your choice.
To create a hot or cold drink, you can add this healthiest cocoa powder to water.
You may also add it to smoothies, drinks, and desserts to enhance your health.
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The 12 powerful benefits of cocoa
So, let’s see the 12 powerful benefits of cocoa and dark chocolate, considered superfoods of longevity.
#1 Contains a multitude of vitamins and minerals
Cocoa is a nutritional treasure because it contains essential vitamins and minerals and high amounts of antioxidants.
According to studies in the Department of Food Science and Technology at Cornell University in New York, one cup of cocoa has twice the antioxidant activity of a glass of red wine, three times that of a cup of green tea, and five times that of a cup of black tea. (2)
One tablespoon of cocoa powder is 15 grams, and 100 grams contain:
- 227 calories
- 8 gr. saturated fat
- 58 gr. carbohydrates
- 33 gr. fiber
- 20 gr. proteins
- 230 mg caffeine
- Vitamins D, E, B1, B2, B6, and B12
- Zinc and,
- 499 mg magnesium
#2 Absorbs free radicals
Free radicals are natural compounds for our bodies and necessary for our lives.
The body’s ability to convert air and food into chemical energy depends on the free radical chain reaction.
Free radicals are also essential for our immune system. They protect us from viruses, parasites, and germs in normal quantities.
However, they are directed against our cells when produced in high quantities. They cause significant damage while accelerating aging and chronic disease manifestation. (3)
We have combined free radicals with premature aging and serious diseases such as autoimmune and cancer.
The discovery of the role of free radicals in chronic degenerative diseases is expected to bring significant changes in the prevention and treatment of many diseases. (4)
Free radicals are chemical compounds produced in our bodies after the body is exposed to specific external conditions or pathological conditions.
So, cocoa can absorb 28 times more free radicals than berries.
It can also repair the damage to our cells, improving harmful effects on our bodies.
#3 Cocoa helps in weight and fat loss
The powerful benefits of cocoa do not stop there.
Consuming it as cocoa or chocolate can help you control your weight.
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Cocoa can help reduce appetite by regulating our energy use. Reduced hunger and high energy increase fat oxidation and satiety. (5)
At the same time, it helps reduce inflammation that prevents us from losing or maintaining weight. (6)
One study found that people who consumed chocolate more often had BMIs lower than those who did not. The first group that tested and discovered cocoa’s beneficial effects on weight loss ate more calories and fat. (7)
But the positive results apply when we prefer chocolate that contains over 75-80% cocoa and not when we choose white or milk chocolate. (8)
#4 It has antibacterial properties for the skin and teeth
Many studies have found the protective benefits of cocoa in improving dental cavities and fighting gum diseases. (9)
Cocoa contains many anti-inflammatories, antibacterial, and immunostimulatory compounds that contribute to oral health. (10)
In a study of rats, the researchers found those infected with oral bacteria and given cocoa extract significantly reduced bacteria in the dental cavities compared with those given only water. (11)
But note that we should prefer organic cocoa and not some products that contain sugar.
In addition, despite what articles have written from time to time, pure cocoa chocolates do not cause acne. The polyphenols in cocoa have provided significant health benefits to our skin. (12)
Finally, long-term and regular consumption of cocoa drinks may help protect our skin from the sun. At the same time, it improves blood circulation to the skin, its texture, and hydration. (13)
#5 It may lower high blood pressure
The flavanols in cocoa improve nitric oxide blood levels, enhancing the function of blood vessels. (14)
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In this way, they lower blood pressure or return it to normal levels.
#6 Reduces the risk of heart disease and stroke
The flavonoids in cocoa improve nitric oxide levels in the blood.
In addition, they relax and dilate the arteries and blood vessels, improving blood flow. (15)
Studies have found that cocoa lowers “bad” LDL cholesterol and blood sugar. Thus, it reduces inflammation in the body while having blood-thinning effects, like our well-known aspirin. (16)
#7 Improves mood and reduces stress
Theobromine and caffeine in cocoa help stimulate the central nervous system.
It can thus create alertness and readiness while raising our mood to new heights. (17)
Cocoa’s help in reducing stress and mental fatigue is very impressive.
The tryptophan calms the muscles by relaxing the whole body while stimulating mental clarity; it is a crucial cocoa ingredient that helps memory, especially in older ages. (18)
#8 Stimulates memory and acts against Alzheimer’s disease
Several studies have shown that the polyphenols contained in cocoa can reduce the risk of neurodegenerative diseases and improve brain function. (19)
According to a new study, a cup of cocoa the night before bed may be ideal for protecting our minds until old age. (20)
It is also vital its help in protecting against neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease. (21)
#9 Improves the symptoms of depression
Besides its positive effect on age-related mental degeneration, the impact of cocoa on the brain can also improve depression symptoms. (22)
Researchers conducted a study on cocoa and chocolate consumption in pregnant women with high-stress levels.
The study showed that more frequent cocoa intake was associated with reduced blood pressure and improved mood in babies and mothers. (23)
#10 Cocoa helps reduce type 2 diabetes (one of the best benefits of cocoa)
Many studies showed that cocoa flavanols could slow down the digestion and absorption of carbohydrates in the gut.
This would simultaneously improve insulin secretion and stimulate blood sugar uptake. (24)
Higher flavanol intake, such as those found in cocoa powder, may lead to a lower risk of type 2 diabetes.
Flavanols can also help prevent diabetes and improve blood sugar control. (25)
#11 Helps prevent cancer
According to essential studies on cocoa’s components, its antioxidant properties can protect body cells from damage.
In addition, they fight inflammation and inhibit the growth or spread of cancer cells. (26)
A study conducted in rats showed that the flavonoids and antioxidants in dark chocolate effectively reduced the growth and spread of colon cancer cells. (27)
#12 Cocoa helps with persistent cough and asthma
Theobromine, a substance contained in cocoa, is effective against persistent cough.
It can stop the action of the pneumogastric nerve, responsible for coughing. (28)
In addition, studies show that cocoa can be beneficial for people with asthma. This effect may happen because cocoa contains anti-asthmatic compounds, such as theophylline and theobromine. (29)
Theophylline even helps the lungs to dilate, relax the airways, and reduce inflammation.
How can you make a drink to get all the benefits of cocoa
Boil up to a cup of water and add 1-2 tablespoons of cocoa. Stir well and once it swells, take it off the heat and drink.
I never add sugar, but you can add a little brown sugar or milk if you cannot drink it plain.
Cocoa is an essential ingredient in modern cuisine, and its health benefits are endless.
However, use good quality cocoa powder or dark chocolate containing over 75% cocoa to get its best benefits.
What to be careful with cocoa despite the benefits of cocoa
Cocoa is considered a safe food and drink for most people.
However, its caffeine can cause nervousness, increased urination, and insomnia in high quantities.
Also, those who have planned to undergo surgery should avoid cocoa or dark chocolate.
In addition, caffeine can slow down the absorption of certain drugs by the body.
If you have any health problems or take any medication, consult your doctor before drinking cocoa.
Did you know the benefits of cocoa to our health?
Did you know about all these exceptional properties and benefits of cocoa mentioned above? Have you ever tried to drink cocoa to improve your diet and health significantly?
Please leave your critical comments below!
I wish you to be always well! 🙂