Benefits of cocoa you need to know, plus cocoa is a tropical evergreen tree which the seeds are widely well known as the main ingredients of chocolate products. Cocoa beans are the fermented seeds of the cacao tree, whose Latin name is Theobroma cacao, which means “Food of the Gods”.
It is native to the Amazon region and as the meaning suggests, it was historically considered a very important crop in Central and South America. In fact, its beans were so prized that the native tribes used them as a form of currency. The cacao tree stands about 12-25 feet tall and grows naturally in tropical climates.
Cocoa comes from beans produced by the Theobroma Cacao tree and contains many beneficial components:
- Polyphenols: plant-derived compounds that protect against bacteria and UV rays. The most abundant polyphenols in cocoa are flavonoids, catechins, and epicatechins.
- Theobromine: plant-derived compound that has many important functions in heart, respiratory, and mouth health.
- Minerals: the most abundant minerals are magnesium, copper, and iron, all of which are important in overall health and body function.
Relieves Bronchial Asthma: Cacao beans contain xanthine and theophylline, which aid in relaxing bronchial spasms and opening constricted bronchial tubes. This facilitates an easy flow of air and is valuable in curing various allergies, including asthma and shortness of breath. Its consumption, therefore, helps in providing relief from bronchial asthma.
Cocoa Reduces Constipation: Cocoa husk is rich in dietary fiber, which helps keep the colon healthy.
A study (DB-RCT) on 48 constipated children revealed that cocoa, mainly cocoa husk, reduces constipation. Those that received the cocoa supplement reported quicker bowel movements, and fewer hard stools, compared to placebo.
A single-blind study of 44 healthy men and women suggested that regular consumption of cocoa results in a healthier bowel. Participants who consumed two servings of cocoa a day had faster, more frequent bowel movements, as well as softer stools
Prevents Cancer: Cocoa has demonstrated beneficial effects in inhibiting the growth of cancer cells without affecting the growth of normal healthy cells. Studies have provided evidence regarding the chemopreventive and anti-proliferative qualities exerted by the flavonols and procyanidins present in it. These healing effects have proven extremely valuable in the treatment of various types of cancer, including colon cancer and prostate cancer.
Cocoa Prevents Oxidative Stress: Polyphenols in cocoa are antioxidants that prevent free radicals from damaging cells.
Cocoa has been shown to have a higher antioxidant capacity than green and black tea and red wine.
Cocoa Protects the Skin: The antioxidant properties of cocoa flavonols play an important role in skin health.
A study (DB-RCT) on 24 healthy women who consumed high amounts of cocoa flavanols concluded that cocoa flavanols provide protection from UV rays, improve blood circulation, and hydrate the skin making it softer and less scaling.
Another study found that cocoa flavanols improve blood circulation and increase oxygen concentration in the skin.
Another study (DB-RCT) on 11 smokers showed that the consumption of flavanols can reverse skin damage caused by smoking
Cocoa Lowers Blood Pressure: Consumption of cocoa has been proven to lower blood pressure. A study of 15 healthy people showed that the higher the concentration of flavanols, the greater the effect of cocoa on reducing blood pressure. Those who consumed dark chocolate, which has a high concentration of flavonols, saw a much more significant impact than those who consumed white chocolate.
A meta-analysis showed that those who consumed high amounts of flavanols saw a greater reduction in blood pressure than those who consumed little to no flavanols.
Cocoa Reduces Chronic Fatigue Syndrome: A study (DB-RCT) showed that daily consumption of high concentrations of cocoa polyphenols reduced chronic fatigue syndrome, compared to placebo
Cocoa May Prevent Heart Disease: The flavonoids present in cocoa decrease blood clotting (platelet activity and accumulation), therefore preventing the formation of blockages within blood vessels.
A meta-analysis suggested that the consumption of cocoa can reduce the risk of developing high blood pressure (hypertension), lower blood pressure, and reduce the risk of heart disease. A review showed that daily consumption of cocoa can increase nitric oxide (NO) circulation in the bloodstream and improve endothelial function.
Cocoa May Reduce Obesity: A study found that rats who were fed cocoa had less visceral fat. This may be due to the ability of cocoa to decrease the production of fats.
Another study showed that cocoa consumption in male mice reduced weight gain and the absorption of fat from the diet. Cocoa also reduced inflammation associated with obesity as well as improved insulin resistance
Blood Pressure: Many studies have proven that raw cocoa is able to control the blood pressure level due to the antioxidant contained in cocoa which promotes the production of nitric axide. This substance is essential in relaxing the blood vessel so heart is not forced to work too hard and the blood pressure could be controlled.
Combat Depression: Cocoa has anti-depressant effect due to the flavanols as well as anandamide that is effective as mood enhancer. The feeling is similar to europhia that’s why it is not recommended to consume raw cocoa too much in daily basis. Furthermore, cocoa could trig the releasing of endorphin as well which is well known widely as happy hormone.
Has Calming Effect to Fight Fatigue: Oxidative stress could cause fatigue and the chronic one should be treated properly. Avoid drugs because cocoa is the delicious way to treat this condition due to its calming effect and attenuating effect that will release some neurotransmitters like anandamide, serotonin and phenylethylamine in the brain which will combat the fatigue condition effectively.
Prevent Alzheimer: Alzheimer occurred when brain cells are suffering from degeneration. As the natural trigger of neurotransmitter and natural source of antioxidant that could accelerate the cell regeneration, preventing Alzheimer is one of the wonder that cocoa could do along with some others diseases caused by cells degeneration.
Prevent Premature Aging: If you want to have healthy skin is not only dead cells that should be removed but premature aging should be prevented as well. Polyphenol antioxidant found in cocoa is similar with antioxidant found in green tea which already well known worldwide is able to prevent premature aging and make you feel younger.
Rich of Magnesium: Besides copper, cocoa is also rich of magnesium so it is also effective to treat all kinds of health conditions caused by magnesium deficiency. Furthermore, consuming it in daily basis will maintain human body from lacking of magnesium in long term.
Healthy Snack during PMS: PMS could cause some mood swings that could be annoying sometimes. It is because during PMS the serotonin level will be dropped significantly. Well, consuming cocoa during PMS will provide the calming effect by releasing the hormones that will numb the mood swings feeling.
Cocoa Helps the Lungs: A review showed that theobromine relieves coughing in humans and guinea pigs, with less side effects that other remedies.
A review and a pilot study on asthma patients showed that theobromine can improve lung function (dilation of the bronchioles
Energy Booster: Since cocoa is an excellent source of magnesium, a cup of hot cocoa in the morning is good to boost energy. It is because magnesium is able to optimizing the function of oxygen and regulate blood pressure.
Protection from Osteoporosis: Well, all foods that is rich of magnesium is good for bone health and able to fight osteoporosis significantly and cocoa is one of the super food in the top of the list.
Improve Metabolism: You must be surprised that healthy metabolism has significant role in almost all parts of your body because healthy metabolism means your intestine will work optimally so the absorption of nutrition will be optimal as well. If the nutrients are absorbed optimally there is no problem with excess compounds like glucose that could cause diabetes or excess fat that could cause weight gain problem.
Treat Coughing: Coughing could be annoying especially at night when you need to sleep and rest. Well, to treat it why don’t you make a glass of hot cocoa to relieve the cough because a study have proven theobromine found in cocoa is effective in treating cough. Surely there is no a delicious way to treat cough but having a cup of cocoa before sleeping.
Cognitive Performance Booster: What you need for your body to perform better? Energy? Better mood? Good level of blood pressure and cholesterol? Or all above that? Actually, just having a cup of hot cocoa all of those health benefits will be gained along with a better cognitive performance because cocoa is also well known as natural cognitive performance booster. It is good to be consumed when you were young and the benefits will stay longer than you think because a cup of cocoa in the morning is a secret to senior age with zero cognitive problem.
Source of Healthy Fat: Well, no matter how tight your diet is still your body needs fat for energy and cocoa could provide you the healthy fat that your body essentially required. You don’t need to worry about weight gain when having a cup of hot cocoa every morning for energy booster because the raw cocoa is actually good for weight loss.
Cocoa Protects the Teeth: A review and pilot study on human molar showed that theobromine, present in cocoa, protects the teeth (tooth enamel).
Skin Care: Cocoa has also been found to be effective in maintaining good skin health. Research findings suggest that the consumption of flavonol-rich cocoa helps in decreasing the effects of UV- induced erythema, and reducing skin roughness and scaling. It also aids in enhancing skin elasticity, hydration, and density. Another study confirmed that epicatechin present in cacao aids in elevating the oxygen saturation of hemoglobin, stimulating the healthy flow of blood in the dermal tissues, and contributing to endogenous photo-protection. It is used in the preparation of various skin care products.
Inhibit Cataract: Cataract is one of the conditions that could be prevented naturally just by consuming cocoa. It is due to the proanthocynidins contained in cocoa that will help in inhibiting the formation of cataract.
Effective for Weight Loss: It is true that the processed chocolate could cause weight gain but the raw version is surprisingly having an opposite effect which is very effective for weight loss. First, cocoa is able to shrink appetite so it is easier to control the diet and second cocoa is beneficial in improving body metabolism to make sure all nutrients are absorbed optimally to avoid the accumulation of excess and unnecessary properties.
Mood Booster: Why do you think drinking a glass of hot cocoa could assist in reliving your stress? Well, it is because cocoa has properties that could act as natural mood booster. It is because cocoa contained flavonols which good for mood and has anti-depressant effect.
Cocoa Enhances Mood: A pilot study on 48 healthy men and women revealed that consumption of cocoa enhances mood. A review of several studies also showed the effects of chocolate on mood. Based on the evidence collected, cocoa and chocolate are effective in enhancing mood as well as relieving mental fatigue
Cocoa Is Anti-Cancer: Ornithine decarboxylase (ODC) is an enzyme present in normal cells that can lead to cancer if in excess. Cocoa flavanols and procyanidins reduce ODC activity, therefore reducing the risk of developing tumors, and can also kill colon cancer cells. A pilot study revealed that cocoa also inhibits the growth and reproduction of prostate cancer cells, but not the growth of normal cells.
Moreover, a review showed that the antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties of cocoa play a role in reducing the overall risk of cancer
People with food sensitivities can have negative reactions to cocoa, including Joe. It’s recommended that you exclude it from your diet in order to see if you react to it.