Cocoa powder health benefits have a lot. Cocoa powder is rich in theobromine, which helps to reduce inflammation and can protect you from diseases such as heart disease, cancer, and diabetes. Since cocoa is rich in phytonutrients but low in fat and sugar, the calories you get from cocoa powder will be packed with healthy chemicals. Here we are going to discuss the benefits of cocoa powder for health.
Cocoa Powder Health Benefits
Improved Cognitive Health
Research suggests that adding more cocoa powder to your diet helps to improve your attention, working memory, and general cognition. It may also restore cognitive performance in people with sleep loss.
Stronger Immune System
Cocoa powder contains iron, zinc, and selenium. These minerals help your body function and give your immune system a boost.
Lessened Side Effects of Radiation Therapy
Consuming cocoa powder can be helpful if you’ve been diagnosed with cancer and undergoing radiation therapy. The selenium in cocoa power has been shown to limit the negative side effects of radiotherapy in people with cancer.
Better Muscle and Nerve Function
Magnesium is important for regulating muscle contraction and helping with nerve function. The mineral also helps protect nerve cells and reduce the risk of neurological disorders. Cocoa powder contains magnesium, which means consuming it can help with maintaining healthy muscle and nervous system functioning.
Chocolate made with 90% cocoa contains plenty of zinc, a mineral that is useful for healing wounds.
Lower Risk of Heart Disease
Flavonols, a type of flavonoid found in dark chocolate, help to protect you from heart disease by lowering blood pressure, improving blood flow, and preventing cell damage. Cocoa powder also contains polyphenols and antioxidants that help to improve cholesterol and blood sugar levels and reduce the risk of heart disease.
Cocoa powder is rich in theobromine, which helps to reduce inflammation and can protect you from diseases such as heart disease, cancer, and diabetes.
Weight Loss and Control
Since cocoa is rich in phytonutrients but low in fat and sugar, the calories you get from cocoa powder will be packed with healthy chemicals. Studies have also found that cocoa helps regulate energy use and metabolism while increasing feelings of fullness. In other words, although chocolate is commonly associated with weight gain, cocoa powder may help to reduce weight while providing important nutrients.
Augments Heart Function
Having negligible cholesterol content, cocoa powder can be safely consumed in the diet regularly for promoting heart health. Cocoa powder is also rich in anthocyanins which prevent the accumulation of lipids in blood vessels and improves the circulation of blood to and from the heart, ensuring optimal functioning of cardiac muscles.
Enhances Digestive System
Cocoa powder has a significant fiber content, which helps to prevent instances of constipation, bloating, and cramping of the stomach, upon ingestion of a heavy meal. Moreover, its laxative nature regulates bowel movements, thereby easing any discomfort experienced in the gut.
Detoxifies the Kidneys
Cocoa powder stimulates the normal elimination of body wastes via the excretory system in the body. It boosts the secretion of fluids within the kidneys, promptly getting rid of accumulated toxins and at the same time, guaranteeing proper hydration of the internal organs in the body. In this manner, cocoa powder supports the routine tasks of the kidneys and bladder.
Strengthens Respiratory Processes
Cocoa powder has intrinsic decongestant and expectorant qualities, which implies that it can readily loosen any excess phlegm or mucus secretions and remove them from the respiratory tract. This immensely benefits lung function and also prevents any allergies and breathing difficulties.
Helps Maintain Healthy Body Weight
Cocoa powder offers calories and is high in essential nutrients, for optimal energy metabolism and can be taken in measured amounts by those people who are strictly following a diet regime to lose weight, especially in case of those with diabetes. It also provides dietary fibers that can be processed easily in the stomach, keeping one feeling full for longer, reducing cravings, and assisting in burning fat at a quicker pace.
Cocoa powder is considered one of the best remedies for cardiac ailments such as palpitations, irregular heartbeats, chest pain, high blood pressure, and coronary heart disease. Cocoa powder is safe to consume for heart issues, promotes blood circulation, and ameliorates the difficulties in performing normal day-to-day activities.
Cocoa powder extracts, when applied in instances of severe hair fall, invigorated the blood circulation and nerve function in the scalp, promoting rapid hair growth. Alopecia is characterized by prominent bald spots and excessive hair loss, and the high carotene content in cocoa extract counters these factors, to reduce constant hair fall and enhance the strength and smoothness of hair.
Strengthens Bones And Joints
Being an effective anti-inflammatory, cocoa powder reduces bone and muscle pain and heals joint disorders such as arthritis, osteoporosis, gout, and fractures. In addition, it is packed with the three essential bone-fortifying minerals namely calcium, magnesium, and phosphorous, which in turn increases bone mass and helps regain flexible movement in muscles and joints.
Being a powerhouse flavonoid and carotenes, cocoa powder is a potent agent to boost immune system function in situations of illnesses. Since the function of organs is below the optimum during disease, consuming cocoa powder provides antioxidants to blood cells, which are subsequently transported to other organs to recover their peak functioning levels. It also helps to recuperate from tiredness.
The thyroid hormone levels tend to fluctuate and rise above the normal range in some people, causing hyperthyroidism. Cocoa powder is profuse in iodine content, which is vital to reduce elevated thyroid hormone levels, as well as zinc, which plays a central role in facilitating enzyme function for optimizing thyroid concentrations.
The prominent vitamin B6 or pyridoxine content in cocoa powder is very beneficial in monitoring brain functions and allowing the unobstructed conduction of nerve impulses. Hence, during instances of insomnia or severe lack of sleep, having a drink with cocoa powder can lessen the activity of neurotransmitters and promote sleep.
Cocoa Powder Nutrition
The nutritional values present in 100 g (grams) serving of unsweetened cocoa powder, as per the Food And Nutrition Database of the USDA (United States Department Of Agriculture), are as follows:
- Water 1 %
- Energy 196 Kcal
- Protein 19.6g
- Fat 13.7g
- Unsaturated fatty acids 5g
- Carbohydrate 57.9g
- Fiber 37g
- Sugars 1.75g
- Calcium 128mg
- Iron 13.86mg
- Magnesium 499mg
- Phosphorus 734mg
- Potassium 1524mg
- Sodium 21mg
- Zinc 6.81mg
- Copper 3.79mg
- Manganese 3.84mg
- Selenium 14.3mg
- Thiamin 0.08mg
- Riboflavin 0.24mg
- Niacin 2.19mg
- Pantothenic acid 0.25mg
- Vitamin B-6 0.12mg
- Folate 32ug
- Choline 12ug
- Vitamin E 0.1mg
- Vitamin K 2.5mg
In addition to the array of proteins, amino acids, fibers, vitamins, and minerals, cocoa powder is also rich in polyphenol antioxidants such as catechin, epicatechin, flavonol, anthocyanin, and procyanidin. Cocoa powder also possesses significant amounts of theobromine and caffeine, which have stimulant and neuroprotective properties.
Side Effects of Cocoa Powder
When consumed in moderate amounts daily, the cocoa powder does not cause any major side effects. However, since it possesses caffeine, too much intake of cocoa powder results in frequent urination, sleeplessness or insomnia, gastroesophageal reflux disease i.e. GERD, and even lead to irregular heartbeats. Moreover, in instances of allergies to cocoa-based ingredients, having cocoa powder triggers digestive problems such as gas, and bloating. It also gives rise to hypersensitivity reactions when applied topically on the skin i.e. face, body, scalp.
How to Prepare Cocoa Powder
To turn cocoa beans into cocoa powder:
- Roast the cocoa beans.
- Remove the shells so just the cocoa nibs remain.
- Mill the cocoa nibs into a non-alcoholic liquor.
- Press the cocoa liquor to remove the cocoa butter.
- Break down the leftover solid mass (called the cocoa press cake) to form cocoa powder.
How Much Cocoa Powder A Day for Health Benefits?
The European Food Safety Authority recommends 0.1 ounces (2.5 grams) of high-flavanol cocoa powder or 0.4 ounces (10 grams) of high-flavanol dark chocolate containing at least 200 mg of flavanols per day to achieve heart health benefits.