Cocoa is a fruit of the cocoa tree, a tree native to the Amazon, whose seeds, after being roasted and ground, become the raw material used in the manufacture of chocolate.
Its consumption offers health benefits as it is an aphrodisiac, energetic, reduces PMS symptoms , protects heart health and acts against infections .
And even though cocoa is considered a very caloric food, especially when it comes to industrialized chocolates, correct consumption can help maintain body weight.
10 benefits of cocoa consumption
1. Reduces PMS symptoms
The desire to eat cocoa-based sweets tends to increase during the period of PMS (Premenstrual Tension) and there is a scientific basis behind this.
The food reduces symptoms such as irritation and fatigue because it has an amino acid that is part of the production of serotonin, a substance responsible for regulating mood .
This effect acts directly on the feeling of well-being and even on the quality of sleep . That’s why it’s common to hear the maxim that eating chocolate brings a feeling of happiness. ( 1 )
Cocoa beans have another substance, which combined with some B vitamins, increases this feeling of happiness while keeping the brain functioning normally. ( 2 )
However, to obtain this effect, it is necessary to consume pure cocoa or dark chocolate. ( 1 )
2. Has aphrodisiac potential
Another known benefit of cocoa is to increase sexual desire and pleasure. It elevates levels of euphoria (joy and physical well-being) and increases the body’s sensitivity, which provides increased sexual pleasure.
Cocoa beans have a hormone known as the “passion hormone”. It stimulates an area of the brain that sends out alerts, making the body more “ready” to positive stimuli, including sexual ones. And it is women who are more sensitive to this effect. ( 3 )
3. Gives more energy and focus
Eating almonds, or the powder made with them, gives the body more energy to get through a busy day. And the merits are caffeine and theobromine, which stimulate brain function.
It is also an energy food as it has an expressive amount of carbohydrates, one of the main sources of energy for the body. Each heaped tablespoon of cocoa (15 g) contains 3.14 grams of carbohydrates, which are quickly metabolized. ( 4 )
4. Relieves symptoms of inflammatory problems
Nutritionist Sueli Longo explained that cocoa has an anti-inflammatory action resulting from the flavonoids found in almonds.
It’s almost as if these compounds send some sort of message, telling the body that it’s not necessary to overreact, because it’s all under control. ( 5 )
5. Protects against infections
Flavonoids are also described by the professional as having the ability to inhibit the proliferation of disease-causing microorganisms , the so-called antimicrobial action.
As a result, these invaders cannot multiply unchecked and therefore cannot initiate infections.
6. Inhibits the action of free radicals
The nutritionist explains that flavonoids have yet another important health effect, the antioxidant potential.
This means that they prevent the action of free radicals, unstable molecules that accelerate cell degradation , preventing the onset of diseases. ( 5 )
7. Decreases the risk of cancer
Sueli Longo also explained that, due to its antioxidant potential, consuming cocoa can be of great help in preventing cancer. It prevents free radicals from damaging DNA.
When DNA is affected, failures occur that favor the disordered growth of cells, a problem that increases the threat of tumor formation and the appearance of various types of cancer.
8. Protects cardiovascular health
“Due to its antioxidant , anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties, cocoa consumption may be associated with cardioprotective effects”, informs Sueli, describing that the action protects the cardiac tissue from damage produced by free radicals.
The food can help reduce bad cholesterol (HDL), while stimulating the increase of good cholesterol (LDL), provided it is used consciously. ( 5 )
Its consumption also prevents the formation of clots, which contributes to an improvement in circulation and blood pressure control , as well as to reduce the risk of developing vascular problems, such as thrombosis . ( 6 )
9. Good for the skin
Starting to consume cocoa is good for the health and appearance of the skin as it prevents premature aging, as well as preventing the oxidation of cells, it also protects against the negative effects of the sun’s rays. ( 7 )
Cocoa also promotes an improvement in skin hydration , as it reduces water loss through the region.
10. Helps to maintain body weight
Even though it is a very caloric product, with 359 calories per 100 gram serving, cocoa is a food that can contribute to the maintenance of body weight.
This benefit is due to the caffeine present in almonds, which helps with the burning and disposal of fat that is ingested in the diet. The body starts to store less of this nutrient, preventing the formation of localized fat.
Finally, theobromine is a mild diuretic. This causes it to encourage the disposal of excess fluids and toxins, which cause swelling and increase the feeling of being overweight. ( 1 )
Fit cake recipe with cocoa
- 2 cups of oat bran
- 2 cups of whole wheat flour
- 1 cup demerara or brown sugar
- 3 eggs
- 1 cup skim or vegetable milk
- 1 cup and ½ cocoa powder
- 1 tablespoon of baking powder
- ½ cup coconut oil.
You saw that cocoa can help with weight control and this is a healthy and nutritious recipe for those who want to absorb not only this, but all the other benefits of the seed and still quench the craving for something very “chocolaty”.
The preparation is very simple. First mix all dry ingredients in a bowl and set aside. Then mix the wet ingredients, can be in a blender, and add to the dough little by little. This process facilitates mixing and prevents it from lumping.
Grease the pan and put it in a preheated oven at 180º for 45 minutes or until you insert a toothpick and it comes out completely clean. Let it cool and the delicious cocoa cake is ready.
If you don’t find or don’t like whole wheat flour, you can use 4 cups of oatmeal or switch to rice flour.
Relationship between cocoa and chocolate
The most popular products derived from cocoa do not always add their benefits. This is the case with white and milk chocolate.
The chocolate milk has a very low percentage of cocoa , less than 40%, which is not enough that the body can absorb the properties. It also receives a large addition of sugar, milk and cocoa butter, which ends up increasing its caloric value, making it uninteresting for weight control.
White chocolate is basically milk, cocoa butter and sugar, without any almond component. Therefore, it does not have a reasonable amount of advantages and is still very caloric.
What is the best option for consumption?
The best option is to always choose to use cocoa powder , which is easily found in supermarkets and can be used in various recipes. Also nibs , which are roasted and fermented almonds, or dark chocolate, with at least 60% cocoa. ( 8 )
Even though cocoa is a food full of benefits, it should not be consumed in excess as it is high in calories .
It is recommended to consume a maximum of 50 grams of dark chocolate or cocoa per day. On top of that, food can contribute to weight gain and related problems. ( 8 )