Cocoa is considered a miracle food with immense health benefits. Kuna Amerinds which is a tribe off Panama coast drink around 40 cups of fresh cocoa every week. It has many medicinal properties and is more protective than many food items. If cocoa is consumed moderately and regularly it will provide protection against so many health issues. It is probably one of the greatest medicinal foods available. The cocoa tree grows fruits on its branches and trunk. The fruit is called pod. These pods contain seeds inside them which are called cocoa beans. Cocoa is grown in the hot and humid regions. The climate of Africa (mainly in forest regions), Central and South America, Asia and Oceania are suitable for cocoa cultivation. Following are health benefits of cocoa.
Cocoa as Antioxidant
Cocoa contains about 44 mg of flavonoids per gram. Flavonoids are one type of Polyphenol (a group of antioxidants). Cocoa is considered to be one of the highest polyphenol containing food. Antioxidants provide protection against heart ailments and also gave anti aging effect.
Nutritional Value of Cocoa
Two tablespoons of cocoa has only 1.5 grams of fat and 25 calories. It also has 3.6 grams of fibre. Average daily requirement of fibre is around 26 grams. It also provides you 8% of daily iron requirement and 14% of magnesium requirement. In addition cocoa contains 700 known compounds, including polyphenols and phenethylamine.
Health Benefits of Consuming Cocoa
Cocoa is good for Heart
The polyphenols found in cocoa are beneficial for cardiovascular health. The antioxidants in cocoa reduce the oxidation of LDL (bad cholesterol). Therefore it reduces risk of heart attack. It also prevents hardening of arteries. Therefore cocoa consumption reduces the risk of atherosclerosis.
Cocoa is Antidepressant
Cocoa also contains phenethylamine. This is a neurotransmitter found in the brain which acts as natural antidepressant. So consumption of cocoa boosts your natural happiness level.
Cocoa is Mood Enhancer
Cocoa and chocolates have compounds which enhance production of feel good chemicals in your brain. Two of these chemicals in brain are serotonin and dopamine. So cocoa has mood elevating properties.
Cocoa is used in Many Food Products
Cocoa has sensuous and delightfully rich flavour which pleases your test buds. No wonder it is used in variety of food products and also cosmetic products. But when you buy cocoa as food check the ingredients. Cocoa powder is generally mixed with many other ingredients and percentage of cocoa may actually be much less!!
More Health Benefits of Cocoa
Moderate consumption of cocoa has many health benefits. Some of these are given below: –
- Cocoa reduces bad cholesterol (LDL) and enhances good cholesterol (HDL).
- It helps prevent hardening of arteries which results in reduction of heart attack risk.
- Cocoa has anti depressant and mood enhancer properties.
- The flavonoids present in cocoa helps our body process nitric oxide. Drinking of hot cocoa improves blood flow and also helps in reduction of blood pressure. You won’t believe it but increased blood flow helps you think well because blood flow to brain increases.
- It is also very beneficial for skin and hair. Many products are made of cocoa and cocoa butter as ingredient, for enhancing health of facial skin, body skin and hairs.