Cocoa Powder Health Benefits

Many people crave chocolate and avoid it because they are under the impression that it is fattening and unhealthy. Although a lot of chocolate products are unhealthy and calories dense, it is due to the addition of substances such as sugar and not to the cocoa itself. In fact, cocoa powder, which comes from the cocoa bean, is highly nutritious, and it can provide numerous health benefits.

Cocoa Nutritional Facts
A 2 tbsp. serving of cocoa contains just 25 calories and 1.5 g of fat. It also provides you with 3.6 g of fiber, which is 14 percent of the daily value, and 8 percent of the daily value of iron and 14 percent of the daily value of magnesium.

In general, the less processed the cocoa is, the more nutrients it contains. Cocoa in its raw form has four times the antioxidants as processed cocoa. It is available at health foods stores and will taste bitter, but you can add sugar or honey to sweeten it.

The general rules when looking for cocoa powder are:


  • The darker the chocolate, the more antioxidants it contains. 
  • The higher cocoa content, the more antioxidants it contains. 
  • The less sugar, the better it is for your overall health. 
  • Chocolate in general contains saturated fat and sugar, so remember that moderation is the key. 
  • Look for hot cocoas that are lower in fat and sugar and use low-fat or nonfat milk to prepare it, thereby increasing the nutritional punch of this tasty beverage!


Chocolate is rich in antioxidants which help prevent cardiovascular disease and help the body fight against free radicals that can damage cells.

Cocoa is rich in flavonoids, which are compounds produced by plants that have been shown to have health benefits. Flavonoids reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease by decreasing blood pressure and improving blood vessels. Consuming foods that are high in flavonoids reduces inflammation and help prevent insulin resistance, which can decrease the risk of type 2 diabetes.

Cocoa may lower LDL cholesterol, reduce the risk of blood clots, increase blood flow to the arteries, lower high blood pressure, boost cognitive performance and provide essential minerals such as calcium and potassium.

Cocoa contains healthy fats, including as much as 35 percent oleic acid. This is the same fatty acid found in olive oil that may increase levels of high-density lipoprotein, or HDL, the good form of cholesterol.

Research is also showing cocoa powder to help immune function, cognition, and detoxification. Cocoa can both upregulate specific immune cells and help modulate immune function. It appears to increase brain oxygenation which has beneficial implications for diseases like dementia. And finally, raw organic cocoa powder with its high fiber content has been shown to facilitate the excretion and detoxification of environmental contaminants from the body.

Conclusion
It is easy to see that cocoa not only plays a multi-factorial role in protecting us from chronic degenerative diseases but also goes a long way to making us feel good by its mood enhancing and nutritive properties. It may not impart immortality to us yet, but it is certainly immortalized in human history. How wise the ancient peoples were to realize the powerful and far reaching implications of this amazing plant. Modern research is beginning to prove what the ancients already knew: raw organic cocoa is truly a gift from the gods.

Considerations 
Despite all of the possible benefits, you must know that cocoa contains caffeine, which may have negative effects, such as insomnia, on caffeine-sensitive individuals. It also contains oxalates, and increased oxalate levels can contribute to the formation of kidney stones; therefore if you are prone to kidney stones, cocoa and chocolate should not be consumed.

Here is a nutritious and simple recipe:

Favorite Hot Cocoa

Ingredients: 1/2 cup granulated sugar 1/3 cup hot water 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder 4 cups milk 1/8 teaspoon salt 3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preparation: Mix cocoa, sugar, water and salt in a saucepan. Over medium heat, stir constantly until mixture boils. Cook, stirring constantly, for 1 minute. Stir in the milk and heat, but do not boil. Remove from heat and add vanilla; blend well. Serve immediately.


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