Cocoa is well-known to all of us since we were kids! In addition to its pleasant taste, it conceals several health benefits! From Mayan and Aztec times, when its seeds were used as a currency to nowadays that it is considered to be a valuable superfood, the only sure thing is that cocoa draws some attention!
Cocoa: nutritional value
Cocoa beans come from the cocoa tree, which is found in many tropical regions, and last decades its cultivation becomes bigger and bigger! But what does it contain that makes it so valuable?
Cocoa powder is a nutritious food with a unique bitter taste. Cocoa beans are high in fats, but most of them are removed when they are processed to receive cocoa powder, giving us cocoa butter!
What draws attention to cocoa from a nutritional point of view is its high content of minerals and trace elements, such as magnesium, copper, manganese, iron, phosphorus, potassium and zinc! In addition, it is considered one of the richest sources of polyphenols, antioxidants that affect many biological processes.
1.Lowers blood pressure!
According to a meta-analysis of researchers in Germany about the effect of cocoa on blood pressure compared to tea, cocoa seems to be the winner in this case! In fact, systolic pressure fell by 4.7 mmHg on average, while diastolic pressure fell by 2.8 mm Hg, which translates to a 20% lower risk of stroke and a 10% lower risk of a heart attack(1)!
2.Helps with Memory!
Flavanols contained in cocoa contribute to better brain function, improving memory and cognitive function, mostly associated with age (2). This seems to be related to the improvement in insulin sensitivity, which is also observed with cocoa flavanols consumption!
We all feel a little better when we put a little chocolate in our mouth, but is it because of its sweet taste buor the cocoa it contains? Many studies have shown that the valuable ingredients in cocoa, polyphenols, calm us down and help us eliminate stress. (3)
4.Can help with allergies!
There are several indications that cocoa could help prevent, or even treat, allergies, as it reduces the release of immunoglobulin E (IgE) in allergic responses! This opens the way for further research regarding the role cocoa flavonoids play in allergies (4.5)!
Among the many benefits of cocoa, is its ability to reduce inflammation by inhibiting nuclear factor-κB (4). Thus, it may contribute positively to chronic inflammatory conditions that often occur in cardiovascular disease, degenerative diseases, diabetes mellitus, etc., but further research is needed (6).
6.It’s good in your heart!
Many studies praise cocoa for the benefits it can offer to our heart! It improves cholesterol by increasing HDL (good cholesterol) levels, improves blood pressure and clotting, and reduces adhesion molecules – those proteins that cause white cells and other substances to stick to arterial walls! (7)
Maybe a cup of hot cocoa is all you need!
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