Cocoa has many potential health benefits.
1. Cocoa is high in antioxidants. Cacao contains higher amounts of antioxidants than green tea, red wine, blueberries and goji berries. Antioxidants are important in preventing many forms of lifestyle diseases, including various types of cancer, heart disease and diabetes. The Oxygen Radical Absorption Capacity (ORAC) score is given to measure the antioxidant capacity of food. Raw cocoa powder is listed above as one of the highest antioxidant-rich foods (source).
2. Cocoa can reduce the effects of depression. Is it any wonder we get chocolate when we feel down? Cacao contains a chemical property called anandamide, which is supposed to reduce the effects of depression (sources).
3. Cocoa is naturally low in sugar. It is clear that we are not talking about processed chocolate here. Pure cocoa beans are naturally low in sugar. It also contains a large amount of essential fatty acids, which makes it a great snack with a low carbohydrate content!
4. Cocoa is high in fiber and iron. A 1-ounce serving of cocoa beans contains about 20% of your recommended daily iron intake and 36% of your fiber requirements.
5. Cocoa can lower blood pressure and the risk of cardiovascular disease. Cacao contains a high amount of polyphenols. Studies have shown that polyphenols can help reduce oxidative stress and insulin resistance. These are both important factors for the potential reduction of the risk of blood pressure and heart disease (source).
6. Cocoa can help you lose weight! Research suggests that cocoa may aid in weight loss by improving mitochondrial biochemistry and increasing muscle glucose intake (sources).
7. Cocoa can reduce cortisol and inflammation. Cacao contains a specific flavanol called epicatechin, which has been attributed to the anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects of cocoa (source). Cortisol is the body's stress hormone. This is what produces a combat or flight response when we feel terrible, stressed or in danger. Unfortunately, too much cortisol floating around the body also leads to inflammation. Have you ever reached for chocolate when you feel stressed? Now you know why!
8. Cacao contains a wide range of micronutrients. Micronutrients are vital to your health and help promote healthy bones, hair, skin and nails. Cocoa is rich in micronutrients. These include magnesium, chromium, copper, zinc and calcium. Cacao can make a great addition to your diet.
A diagram featuring 4 skeletal chemical formulas. Top (caffeine) relates to similar compounds paraxanthine, theobromine and theophylline.