Health benefits of Cocoa Powder

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Cocoa Powder Quick Facts
Name: Cocoa Powder
Colors Natural: Light brown; Processed: Brownish red to nearly black
Shapes Powder form
Taste Bitter
Calories 196 Kcal./cup
Major nutrients Copper (362.00%)
Iron (149.00%)
Manganese (143.48%)
Magnesium (102.14%)
Phosphorus (90.14%)
Health benefits Normalize blood pressure, Antioxidant properties, Brain health, Manage cholesterol level, Treatment diabetes
Cocoa powder is extracted from cocoa beans that grow in pods on cacao tree. Beans are fermented, dried, cracked and roasted in high temperatures. Nibs are grounded in order to extract 75% of cocoa butter remaining a dark brown paste known as chocolate liquor. It is dried again and the mass is grounded into powder which is an unsweetened cocoa. Roasting modifies molecular structure of cocoa bean lowering the enzyme content and also reducing overall nutritional value.

Two types of cocoa powder are available:

Dutch-processed cocoa powder: It is also called dark cocoa. It undergoes additional processing accompanying an alkalized chemical solution. It makes the taste of the end product richer and also less acidic. But further processing only decreases antioxidants and nutrients.

Natural cocoa powder: It is more acidic and bitter in comparison to Dutch processed powder. It could be find in recipes that requires baking soda because soda alkalizes natural cocoa powder.

Natural cocoa powder is light brown with an extractable pH of 5.3 to 5.8. Alkalized (processed) cocoa powder has darker color ranging from brownish red to nearly black and pH from 6.8 to 8.1. The process of alkalization reduces bitterness and upgrades solubility which is essential for beverage product applications. These pH values are regarded to be safe for food use.

Health Benefits of Cocoa powder

The Latin term Theobroma cacao is widely known ingredient cocoa. Cocoa powder is made from seeds of cacao tree. Cocoa is used as a vital ingredient for making chocolates and possesses medical benefits having certain healing power. Cocoa is naturally rich in minerals and nutrients which provide countless health benefits. The health benefits provided by Cocoa powder includes supporting brain health, stabilizing blood pressure, maintain cholesterol level, a good source of antioxidant, treats diabetes, reduces obesity, contain healing power, mood buster, strengthen cardiovascular health, prevent cancer, treat constipation and support skin health.

  1. Normalize blood pressure

Cocoa powder helps to stabilize the blood pressure. Cocoa beans have adequate flavonoid which reduces blood pressure along with the improvement in elasticity of veins and blood vessels. Cocoa has antioxidants that promote stimulation of nitric acid for controlling pressure of blood vessels. But the cocoa based products such as black tea might have doubtful effects on normal  pulse rate of blood pressure.

  1. Antioxidant properties

A recent study shows that cocoa has high content of antioxidants in comparison to black tea, green tea and wine. Antioxidants vitalize oxygen based radicals in the body. Furthermore, it has high flavonoids and phenolic phytochemicals.

  1. Brain health

Being a flavonoid rich ingredient, cocoa powder assists in maintaining healthy brain. It has neuoprotective benefits that help to promote brain competency, learning and memory functions. Additionally, studies supported those cocoa based products if added as a part of diet, it promotes blood flow and also cures vascular disorders. At the same time, if consumed excessively in caffeinated drinks, it results to severe side effects such as increased urination and sleeplessness.

  1. Manage cholesterol level

Cocoa has hypoglycemic and hypocholesterolemic effects on both glucose and cholesterol respectively. Cocoa powder helps to reduce LDL cholesterol, triglycerides and glucose level. Cocoa promotes HDL cholesterol in the blood that results in lowering chances of heart problems.

  1. Treatment diabetes

Diabetes is a silent killer which damages glucose metabolism. The addition of cocoa based products to the daily diet improves hypermetabolism and insulin resistance of glucose in body. It not only regulates sugar levels but also contains proanthocyanidins that inhibits cataract formation which diabetes activate in the blood occasionally. Findings show that cocoa has antioxidant that is helpful for treating long term diabetes such as nephrotoxicity that could aggravate diabetic complications in patients.

  1. Cure for Bronchial Asthma

Cocoa helps to heal bronchial complications. Alkaloids such as xanthine and theophylline found in cocoa powder help to ease bronchial spasm, constricted opening and bronchial tubes. It promotes breathing flow, treats chronic allergies that leads to severe stage of asthma and breath shortness.

  1. Assist healing

Cocoa extracts are used for constructing medicinal products due to its therapeutic and wound healing properties. Cocoa extract is considered to be an active agent that prevents growth of infectious bacteria in the body. If used appropriately, it aids contagious bacteria named Helicobacter pylori from the body.

  1. Lower obesity

Recent studies have shown the potential of cocoa in preventing obesity in the body. The daily intake of cocoa harmonize lipid metabolism to lower synthesis of fatty acids. Besides lowering obesity, its adequate intake enhances thermogenesis- the heat production mechanism in liver & white adipose tissues.

  1. Cardiovascular health

Study has shown the benefits of cocoa in strengthening cardiovascular health. It incorporates epicatechin, catechin and procyanidin with antioxidant properties that assure cells and also strengthen heart. Moreover, cocoa powder also prevents lethal blood clots that blocks blood vessels that leads to severe cardiac failure.

  1. Enhance mood

The consumption of cocoa helps to release stress level. It has antidepressant effect that facilitates some physiological processes. Cocoa powder has flavonols that promotes depressed mood by enhancing cognitive activities to provide relief from mental exertion. Cocoa powder also contains neurochemical phenylethylamine that promotes feelings of satisfaction and enhance aphrodisiac effects.

  1. Treat Constipation

People with chronic constipation might find it helpful when consumed cocoa based products. Cocoa powder applies therapeutic effects that help to treat complication regarding digestion and bowel related diseases. Research shows that study on pediatric patients helps to assess effects of fiber rich cocoa powder on colonic, rectal and intestinal diseases. Study found out that cocoa is a substance which promotes the bowel function and also its movement. It relieves gastrointestinal discomfort by softening the consistency of stool.

  1. Prevention of cancer

Cocoa powder helps to inhibit growth of cancerous cells and also assist the growth of healthy cells. It exhibit anti-proliferative qualities for healing cancer by helping procyanidins and flavonols. It helps to treat colon and prostate cancer having effective healing power.

  1. Skin health

Cocoa is a natural ingredient which is helpful to maintain skin health. Findings have shown that flavonol found in cocoa lower hazardous effect of ultraviolet rays and also reduce scaling and skin roughness. Additionally, cocoa based products causes skin allergies on sensitive skin. If skin sensitivity is experienced, it is important to lower its consumption.

How to Eat         

  • Cocoa powder could be added to pancakes, yogurt or could also be consumed raw.
  • Combine cocoa powder with milk substitute such as almond milk or coconut milk and drink it warm.
  • Add it to oats and combine it with some honey and also it could be added to smoothie or use it in sauce or soup.
  • Cocoa is approved for frozen desserts and beverages and dusting baked goods.
  • Nonalkalized cocoa powder is also used for recipes of baked goods.
  • Cocoa powder is used to flavor ice cream, biscuits, cakes and dairy drinks.
  • It is used to impart flavor in manufacture of coatings for frozen desserts or confectioners.
  • Cocoa powder is also used for preparing chocolate milk.
  • Whip dessert sauce by dissolving equal parts of sugar and cocoa in cream and warm milk then add dash of nutmeg or cinnamon.
  • Cocoa powder could also be used as a substitute for unsweetened chocolate. Combine three tablespoons of cocoa powder with one tablespoon vegetable oil or melted butter for every ounce of unsweetened chocolate in recipe.
  • Mix one tablespoon of sugar and two teaspoons of cocoa powder in one tablespoon hot water and stir one cup of hot milk.

References:

https://blog.paleohacks.com/cacao-vs-cocoa/

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cocoa_solids

http://www.geniuskitchen.com/about/cocoa-powder-136

https://ndb.nal.usda.gov/ndb/foods/show/19165

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