Cocoa Powder: Surprising Health And Nutrition Benefits
There are some people who love to gorge on chocolates and there are also some people who don't like having it because they think it's fattening and unhealthy. Chocolate is made from cocoa beans and these beans are crushed and made into cocoa powder. Cocoa powder is highly nutritious and it can provide numerous health benefits.
Cocoa powder plays an important role in chocolate production and serves as an essential ingredient in baking dishes as well.
Cocoa powder contains several minerals, such as calcium, copper, magnesium, sodium, zinc, phosphorous and potassium.
A two-tablespoon serving of cocoa powder contains just 25 calories, 1.5 g of fat, 3.6 g of fibre which is equivalent to 14 per cent of the daily requirement of fibre and provides 14 per cent of the daily requirement of magnesium and 8 per cent of the daily requirement of iron.
Other major components of cocoa powder are epicatechin and catechin, which are two plant-based substances called flavonoids.
Let us have a look at the health and nutrition benefits of cocoa powder.
Cocoa powder can help lower blood pressure by improving nitric oxide levels. It is due to the presence of flavanols that improve the levels of nitric oxide in the blood, which can enhance the function of your blood vessels and lower blood pressure.
Studies have shown that cocoa powder containing between 30 to 1,218 mg of flavanols can lower blood pressure by an average of 2 mmHg.
Cocoa powder has the ability to elevate mood and get rid of the symptoms of depression. Cocoa powder contains a substance called phenethylamine, which is a neurotransmitter found in the brain that uplifts your mood and acts as a natural antidepressant. Cocoa powder further boosts serotonin levels, another neurotransmitter which acts as an antidepressant.
Polyphenols are antioxidants which are found in cocoa powder in rich amounts. It is also found in other foods such as fruits, vegetables, chocolate, tea and wine. Polyphenol has several health benefits, from reducing inflammation and better blood flow to lowering blood pressure and blood sugar levels and improving cholesterol levels.
Cocoa powder has been found to reduce bad cholesterol (LDL) and improve blood flow to the heart. It is due to the presence of flavanols that influences the health of the heart and blood vessels, thereby reducing the risk of heart attacks, strokes and other cardiovascular diseases.
The intake of cocoa powder is said to help control your weight. Dietary fats are metabolized in the body and used as energy. Cocoa powder aids by regulating the use of energy. If the energy isn't used, the fats are stored as fatty tissues. Cocoa powder further reduces appetite, lowers inflammation, increases the oxidation of fat and gives you a feeling of fullness. This aids in weight management.
Cocoa powder is thought to be beneficial for people with asthma because it contains anti-asthmatic compounds such as theophylline and theobromine. Theobromine is similar to caffeine which may help in persistent cough. Theophylline, on the other hand, aids in dilating your lungs which further relaxes your airways and decreases inflammation.
Cocoa powder contains many compounds that contain anti-enzymatic, antibacterial and immune-stimulating properties that contribute to oral health. Cocoa powder promotes healthy teeth by fighting bacteria that causes cavities in the teeth.
Cocoa powder has the highest concentration of flavanols which have anti-cancer properties. It has been found to protect cells against damage from reactive molecules, inhibit cancer cell growth, fight inflammation and help prevent the spread of cancer cells.
Cocoa extracts have shown positive results in reducing the risk of breast cancer, pancreatic cancer, colon cancer, prostate cancer and liver cancer.
2.5 g of high-flavanol cocoa powder or 10 g of high-flavanol dark chocolate which contains at least 200 mg of flavanols is required to be consumed per day to reap the health benefits, as recommended by the European Food Safety Authority.
1. Eat dark chocolate which contains at least 70 per cent of cocoa.
2. You can add cocoa to your healthy smoothies to give it a richer and chocolaty taste.
3. A hot or cold cocoa is another way to add cocoa to your diet.
4. Add cocoa powder in your desserts and puddings.
5. Sprinkle cocoa powder over cut fruits like strawberries and bananas.
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