35 Scientific Health Benefits of Cocoa (Unsweetened Cocoa Powder)
Cocoa (Theobroma cacao) is a tropical evergreen tree which the seeds are widely well known as the main ingredients of chocolate products. The Maya considered it as the drink of Gods as the Greek word also has similar meaning because Theo means God and broma means drink. Well, don’t consider cocoa is the same with chocolate products which are mostly calories dense because unsurprisingly the dark cocoa or cocoa powder which comes from the cocoa seeds or beans are highly nutritious. It is because the chocolate products has been added with additional substances like sugar and dairy to sweetened the taste because the original taste of cocoa is bitter. In other words, for the health benefits of cocoa you only could obtain it from the raw form and not the processed one.
Nutritional Facts of Cocoa
Note: raw cocoa (unsweetened, unprocessed)
|Calories||821 kJ – 10 %|
|Protein||17 g – 34 %|
|Dietary Fiber||29 g – 114 %|
|Riboflavin||0.2 mg – 12 %|
|Niacin||2 mg – 9 %|
|Folate||28 g – 7 %|
|Total Omega 6 Fat||378 mg|
|Calcium||110 mg – 11 %|
|Iron||12 mg – 66 %|
|Magnesium||429 mg – 107 %|
|Phosphorus||631 mg – 63 %|
|Potassium||1311 mg – 37 %|
|Zinc||6 mg – 39 %|
|Copper||3 mg – 163 %|
|Manganese||3 mg – 165 %|
|Selenium||12 mcg – 18 %|
Meanwhile, there are the nutrients amounts in raw cocoa which is beneficial for health.
- 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.
Related: Symptoms of Low Blood Pressure
- Delicious Source of Antioxidant
It is a common knowledge that antioxidant has prominent role in fighting the free radicals that could cause some chronic diseases. Some studies have shown that antioxidant found in raw cocoa is relatively higher even compared to green tea and red wine. However, more studies also have pointed out that the dairy as found in most chocolate product is blocking the absorption of antioxidant. In other words, don’t expect the antioxidant from your favorite chocolate dairy bar.
- Maintaining Healthy Brain
Cocoa is also considered as super brain food due to the rich of flavanol found in cocoa which is beneficial to maintain the healthy brain. Furthermore, it is also closely related to function of cocoa in making sure the blood will flow to brain and provide the oxygen so brain will function optimally.
Related: Benefits of Salmon
- Controlling Cholesterol
The hypocholesterolemic effect caused by cocoa has significant effect in reducing the cholesterol level by rising the production of HDL and at the same time reducing the production of LDL that could cause some serious problems from heart problem up to the accumulation of blood clot in the artery.
- Foods That Lower Cholesterol Level
- Health Risks of High Levels of Saturated Fat and Cholesterol
- Benefits of Exercise and Recommendation
- Reduce the Level of Triglycerides
Many studies have shown that there is a significant reduction of triglycerides level for those who are currently consuming raw cocoa as part of their daily diet.
Besides hypocholesterolemic, cocoa is also having hypglycemic effect which affect the regulation of sugar in the blood stream. Cocoa could improve the insulin resistance so it is highly recommended for those who are currently suffering diabetes type 2 and at the same time improve the glucose metabolism to optimize the absorption.
- 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.
Related: Health Benefits of Beta-Carotene
- Treat Asthma Naturally
Not everyone knows that asthma is not only about respiratory issue because asthma is actually one of the effects of allergen reaction. So, what we should do to treat asthma is avoiding the trigger in all accounts. Cocoa contains xanthine and theophylline which is valuable to cure various allergies.
Related: Symptoms of Asthma
- Promote Wound Healing
Cocoa has therapeutic properties that is efficient to promote wound healing. It is due to cocoa is also able to fight infections that is could occur from a wound by eradicating the bacteria that caused it.
- 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.
- Preventing Blood Clot
Blood clot is accumulated in the artery that is the main cause of cardiovascular conditions because blood clot will disturb the blood circulation and once the blood circulation is disturbed heart will be forced to work harder and the oxygen distribution is not optimal. Cocoa will promote the production of HDL which will bind the blood clot and prevent the accumulation.
Related: Health Benefits of Drinking Whisky
- Reduce the Risk of Stroke
Stroke is one of the conditions caused when brain is not getting enough oxygen due to the disturbance of blood flow. Furthermore, cocoa has properties that act as anti-platelet like flavonoid which will assist in reducing the risk of stroke attack.
- 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.
- 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.
- Treat Chronic Constipation
Constipation that is not treated properly could lead to chronic constipation and cocoa could assist in treating this condition it is due to cocoa has exerts therapeutic effect because of the high content of fiber contained in cocoa.
Related: Benefits of Pineapple Juice
- Encourage Better Bowel Function
Fiber is one of the compound that cannot be absorbed but has prominent function inside the bowel. Fiber contained in cocoa will encourage a better bowel function by increasing the flow or bowel movements. Healthy bowel has significant role in improving body metabolism so nutrients extracted from foods will be absorbed optimally.
As the natural source of antioxidant surely cocoa has role as anti-cancer. It is a common knowledge that free radicals that enter human body could be fought optimally by antioxidant and cocoa is delicious way to make sure your body received enough antioxidant to prevent the development of cancerous cells.
- Natural Treatment of Anemia
Do you know what is the main cause behind chronic anemia? It is because body is suffering from copper deficiency and cocoa is one of the natural source of copper for your body. At the same time, cocoa is able to improve the hemoglobin level so it is capable of treating all kinds of conditions caused by copper deficiency.
- 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.
- Good for Skin
Since ancient time cocoa has been used to as part of skin treatment it is because cocoa is good for skin. Many studies have proven that cocoa could decrease the side effect caused by UV ray and at the same time enhance the elasticity by making sure skin cells are hydrated and oxygenated and the antioxidant properties will promote the regeneration of new cells.
- 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.
Related: Prevent Alzheimer and Dementia
- 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.
- 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.
Related: Benefits of Drinking Hot Water
- 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.
- Good for Liver
Though people who have been suffering chronic liver condition is supposed to avoid cocoa in all cost but for those who not consuming cocoa in daily basis is good for liver since it is rich of fiber and capable of removing unnecessary properties from colon and function as natural detox in liver.
- 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.
Related: Health Benefits of Almond Butter
- Prevent Sunburn
Believe it or not but a recent study conducted in London found that those who are consuming at least 20 g cocoa is less affected by UV ray and could stay two times longer than those who don’t consume cocoa under direct exposure of sun without getting sunburn.
- Good for Oral Organ
When you were a kid your mother will said that chocolate will destroy your teeth. Well, it is true because processed cocoa required additional ingredients which is mostly sugary ingredients and those are the main cause of tooth decay. However, raw cocoa has the opposite effect and even more effective than fluoride in protecting teeth enamel.
Related: Benefits of Chewing Gums
- 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.
- Improved Memory
Your ability to memorize something is depending on your brain condition. You must have experienced when you feel tired even you cannot thing straight it is because when your body is tired your body system is also working in slow pace so oxygen is not distributed properly to your brain. A cup of cocoa could restore this condition by boosting the energy supply and improving your metabolism so oxygen will be distributed to the brain optimally to improved memory.
Related: Health Benefits of Yoga Headstand
- Good for Digestion System
To improve the function of digestion system you need digestive enzyme and fiber contained in cacao could promote the production of this certain enzyme so the digestion system could improve optimally.
- 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.
- 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.
As a super food with wonderful taste, cocoa is one of the favorite food ingredients worldwide. However, a cup of cocoa in the morning is perhaps the only cocoa you could enjoy for a whole day though surely each person’s needs is different from each other. It is because aside from all the wonderful properties of cocoa, it also comes with cautions you should aware of, though the list is much more shorter compared to the benefits but it doesn’t mean you could take them for granted because some of them could cause serious health problem.
Cautions of Cocoa
- Cocoa contained Caffeine
Cocoa is a healthier version of coffee that could kick your energy in the morning. It is because cocoa is also containing plenty amount of caffeine. So, if you are sensitive to caffeine, perhaps don’t try to drink cocoa before going to bed no matter how many cocoa drink advertisement you have been watching in your whole life that a cup of hot chocolate could help you having a good night sleep.
- Not Recommended for Those with Kidney Issue
Cocoa is actually good for kidney but for those who have problems with kidney is better to avoid cocoa in all cost. It is because of the high content of magnesium found in cocoa. You should aware that cocoa is good for kidney but it is not the cure you’ve been looking for for kidney issue.
- Allergic Reaction
Allergic for some people just like a red rash in the skin but you must aware as well that allergic reaction could be much more than that and in some people allergic could be in the matter of life and death. Those who are sensitive to nuts, should be careful with chocolate either. Besides allergic in the form of skin reaction, cocoa could cause some discomfort for those with sensitive stomach as well.
- Drug Interaction
You must have known that caffeine could cause problem when interacted with certain drugs and since cocoa is also rich of caffeine perhaps making sure you are not consuming drugs that could cause those problem is another caution you should aware of as well.
Well, though cocoa has a bitter taste but once you combined with other ingredients that compatible with cocoa you will understand why this kind of food ingredient is called as ‘drink of God’ by the Mayas. For you who are starting craving for caffeine but needing to avoid coffee, cocoa is a very good alternative for your morning drink.