Cocoa is the seed of the cocoa tree and is the main ingredient in chocolate. This seed is rich in flavonoids, mainly epicatechins and catechins, in addition to being rich in antioxidants.
Due to its composition, regular consumption of cocoa can bring several health benefits, from helping improve mood and blood circulation, to regulating blood sugar levels and protecting heart health, as it does not only have antioxidant action. , but also anti-inflammatory.
To obtain the benefits, the ideal is to consume 2 teaspoons of cocoa powder per day or 40 g of dark chocolate, which is equivalent to approximately 3 squares.
Regular cocoa consumption can provide several health benefits, the main ones being:
1. Improved mood
Cocoa is rich in theobromine, caffeine, phenylethylamine and tyramine, which is a precursor of tryptophan, which in turn is a precursor of serotonin, which is a neurotransmitter related to the regulation of mood, heart rate, sleep and appetite. In this way, cocoa can help improve mood and combat the signs and symptoms of depression and anxiety.
2. Prevents thrombosis
Cocoa helps prevent the development of thrombosis because it helps improve blood flow, which decreases the risk of blood clots due to its flavonoid content.
3. Helps regulate cholesterol
Cocoa is rich in antioxidant substances, helping to regulate circulating cholesterol levels, which helps prevent the deposition of fat in vessels, preventing the formation of atheromatous plaques and the development of cardiovascular disease.
4. Prevents anemia
Cocoa is rich in iron and, therefore, its regular consumption can help prevent anemia, since iron is essential for the formation of hemoglobin, which is a component of red blood cells responsible for transporting oxygen to the body and that it is usually in smaller amounts in case of anemia.
5. Decreases the risk of diabetes
Some studies indicate that cocoa could slow down the digestion of carbohydrates at the intestinal level, in addition to protecting the cells responsible for insulin production in the pancreas and improving insulin secretion. It could also lower insulin resistance, which helps lower the risk of diabetes.
6. Prevents dementia
Cocoa is rich in theobromine, which is a compound with vasodilating activity, favoring blood circulation to the brain, helping to prevent neurological diseases such as dementia and Alzheimer’s, for example. Cocoa is also rich in selenium, a mineral that helps improve cognition and memory.
7. Regulates the bowel
Cocoa is rich in flavonoids and catechins that reach the large intestine, which could increase the amount of bifidobacteria and lactobacillus, which are bacteria that are good for health and have a prebiotic effect, helping to improve the functioning of the intestine.
8. Helps reduce inflammation
Because it is rich in antioxidants, cocoa is able to reduce cell damage caused by free radicals and inflammation. Furthermore, some studies indicate that cocoa consumption promotes a reduction in the amount of C-reactive protein in the blood, which is an indicator of inflammation.
9. Helps with weight control
Cocoa helps with weight control because it helps to decrease the absorption and synthesis of fats. In addition, when ingesting cocoa it is possible to have a greater feeling of satiety, as it helps to regulate insulin, however this benefit is mainly associated with dark chocolate and not milk or white chocolate, as they are rich in sugar and fat. and little amount of cocoa.
In addition, cocoa powder should not be consumed together with calcium-rich products, such as milk, cheese and yogurt, as it contains oxalic acid, a substance that reduces calcium absorption in the intestine, thus reducing the benefits of calcium. cocoa.
10. Lowers blood pressure
Cocoa can also help lower blood pressure as it improves blood vessels by influencing the production of nitric oxide, which is related to the relaxation of these vessels.
The table below shows the nutritional composition of 100 g of cocoa powder.
|nutritional composition||100 cocoa powder|
|Vitamin B1||75 mcg|
|Vitamin B2||1100 mcg|
How to eat cocoa fruit
To consume the cocoa fruit, it must be cut with a machete to break its very hard shell. Then the cocoa can be opened and a whitish ‘clump’ covered by a very sweet viscous substance can be observed, the interior of which has dark cocoa, which is known worldwide.
You can only suck the white gum that surrounds the cocoa seed, but you can also chew everything, eating the inside as well, and the dark part is very bitter and doesn’t look like the chocolate that is so known.
How is chocolate made
In order for these seeds to be transformed into powder or chocolate, they must be harvested from the tree, dried in the sun and then roasted and mashed. The resulting mass is kneaded until the cocoa butter is extracted. This paste is mainly used to make milk chocolate and white chocolate, while pure cocoa is used to make dark or semisweet chocolate.
See the differences and benefits of the main types of chocolate.
Healthy cocoa and flaxseed brownie
- 2 cups of brown sugar tea;
- 1 cup of flaxseed flour;
- 4 eggs;
- 6 tablespoons of unsalted margarine;
- 1 ¼ cup of cocoa powder tea (150 g);
- 3 tablespoons of whole wheat flour;
- 3 tablespoons of white wheat flour.
Method of preparation
Melt the butter in a bain-marie, add the cocoa and stir until uniform. Beat the whites in snow, add the yolks and continue beating until the dough is light. Add sugar and beat until smooth. While mixing slowly with a spatula, add cocoa, wheat and flaxseed until uniform. Place in a pre-heated oven at 230ºC for about 20 minutes, as the surface must be dry and the interior, damp.