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HEALTH AND NUTRITION BENEFITS OF COCOA POWDER AND DARK CHOCOLATE


1. RICH IN POLYPHENOLS THAT PROVIDE SEVERAL HEALTH



Polyphenols are naturally occurring antioxidants found in foods like fruits, vegetables, tea, chocolate and wine. They have been linked to numerous health benefits, including reduced inflammation, better blood flow, lower blood pressure and improved cholesterol and blood sugar levels (1Trusted Source). Cocoa is one of the richest sources of polyphenols. It’s especially abundant in flavanols, which have potent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects.

BENEFITS


2. REDUCE HIGH BLOOD PRESSURE BY IMPROVING NITRIC OXIDE LEVELS



Studies reveal that cocoa is rich in flavanols, which lower blood pressure by improving nitric oxide levels and blood vessel function. Cocoa containing between 30–1,218 mg of flavanols can reduce blood pressure by an average of 2 mmHg.


3. LOWER YOUR RISK OF HEART ATTACK AND STROKE

Cocoa can improve blood flow and reduce cholesterol. Eating up to one serving of chocolate per day may reduce your risk of heart attack, heart failure and stroke..


AND BRAIN FUNCTION

4. POLYPHENOLS IMPROVE BLOOD FLOW TO YOUR BRAIN

Flavanols in cocoa can support neuron production, brain function and improve blood flow and supply to brain tissue. They may have a role in preventing age-related brain degeneration, such as in Alzheimer's disease.


5.IMPROVE MOOD AND SYMPTOMS OF DEPRESSION BY VARIOUS MEANS

The positive effects on mood may be due to cocoa’s flavanols, the conversion of tryptophan to the natural mood stabilizer serotonin, its caffeine content or simply the sensory pleasure of eating chocolate. Cocoa exert some positive effects on mood and symptoms of depression by reducing stress levels and improving calmness, contentment and overall psychological well-being.


6. FLAVONES IMPROVE SYMPTOMS OF TYPE 2 DIABETES


Cocoa flavones can slow down carbohydrate digestion and absorption in the gut, improve insulin secretion, reduce inflammation and stimulate the uptake of sugar out of the blood into the muscle.


7. AID WEIGHT CONTROL IN MANY SURPRISING WAYS

Cocoa products are associated with a lower weight, and the addition of cocoa to your diet may help achieve faster weight loss.


8. HAVE CANCER-PROTECTIVE PROPERTIES


Cocoa has the highest concentration of flavones out of all foods per weight and can significantly contribute to their amount in your diet. Test-tube studies on components of cocoa have found that they have antioxidant effects, protect cells against damage from reactive molecules, fight inflammation, inhibit cell growth, induce cancer cell death and help prevent the spread of cancer cells.


9. THEOBROMINE AND THEOPHYLLINE CONTENTS HELP PEOPLE WITH ASTHMA



Cocoa may be beneficial for people with asthma, as it contains anti-asthmatic compounds, such as theobromine and theophylline.


10. ANTIBACTERIAL AND IMMUNE-STIMULATING PROPERTIES MAY BENEFIT YOUR TEETH AND SKIN

Cocoa can promote healthy teeth by fighting bacteria that cause cavities, though this does not apply to sugar-containing products. It also promotes healthy skin by protecting it from sunlight and improving circulation, the skin surface and hydration.


FUN WAYS TO ADD COCOA TO YOUR DIET INCLUDE:

Eat dark chocolate: Make sure it’s good quality and contains at least 70% cocoa. Check out this guide on selecting high-quality dark chocolate.

Hot/cold cocoa: Mix cocoa with your favourite dairy or non-dairy milk for a chocolate milkshake. Smoothies: Cocoa can be added to your favourite healthy smoothed recipe to give it a richer, chocolatey taste.

Puddings: You can add raw cocoa powder (not Dutch) to homemade puddings like chia breakfast puddings or rice pudding.

Vegan chocolate mousse: Process avocado, cocoa, almond milk and a sweetener like dates for a thick vegan chocolate mousse

Sprinkle over fruit: Cocoa is particularly nice sprinkled over bananas or strawberries.

Granola bars: Add cocoa to your favourite granola bar mixture to bump up the health benefits and enrich the flavour.


SUMMARY There is considerable evidence that cocoa can provide powerful health benefits, being especially protective against heart disease.

Of course, this doesn't mean you should go all out and consume lots of chocolate every day. It is still loaded with calories and easy to overeat.

Maybe have a square or two after dinner and try to really savor them. If you want the benefits of cocoa without the calories in chocolate, consider making a hot cocoa without any cream or sugar.

Also be aware that a lot of the chocolate on the market is not healthy. Choose quality stuff — dark chocolate with 70% or higher cocoa content. You might want to check out this guide on how to find the best dark chocolate.

Dark chocolates typically contain some sugar, but the amounts are usually small and the darker the chocolate, the less sugar it will contain. Chocolate is one of the few foods that taste awesome while providing significant health benefits.

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