The Wonderful Health Benefits of Cocoa

Most people can appreciate the sweet taste of a chocolate bar which is why the news of the health benefits of Dark Chocolate and cocoa powder was met with such enthusiasm. That something could taste so good and still be healthy struck a responsive note with many people. While the health benefits of cocoa have been demonstrated, the decision to add significant amounts of chocolate and cocoa to your diet may not be as clear cut.

Cocoa health benefitshealth-benefits-of-cocoa.jpg

Chocolate and cocoa derive their health benefits from flavonoids which are plant pigments capable of acting as antioxidants to counteract some of the cellular damage that can lead to chronic diseases such as cancer and heart disease. Cocoa powder has also been shown to lower blood pressure and improve blood flow in humans. A cup of cocoa has almost three times the antioxidants of a cup of green tea, another drink renowned for its health benefits. With all of the antioxidant capabilities of cocoa it may seem like a no-brainer to add dark chocolate and cocoa to your diet. While cocoa is still recommended by most experts when consumed in reasonable quantities, the health benefits of cocoa should be balanced by its potential drawbacks.

 

Cocoa and your mood

Have you ever wondered why chocolate has an uplifting effect on mood? This is very likely due to its content of phenylethylamine which has a mood elevating effect somewhat akin to amphetamine type substances. While this may be a positive for those who are depressed, it can be a negative for people prone to anxiety or panic attacks. Plus, there’s evidence that this chemical can be addictive. Could this be where the term chocoholic comes from?

When consuming chocolate rather than cocoa powder, other ingredients added to the chocolate must be considered. Unless you’re consuming a sugar-free, dark chocolate bar, most commercial chocolate bars contain sugar which can have an adverse effect on insulin levels. To get the full benefits of chocolate, the chocolate chosen should be dark chocolate, not milk chocolate since there’s some evidence that milk negates some of the apparent health benefits of cocoa.

The other alternative is to get the benefits from drinking cocoa powder, but this, too, has its problems. Many cocoa powders are processed and contain such undesirable additives as hydrogenated oils, high fructose corn syrup, and milk products. In addition, cocoa powder has been found to contain high levels of acrylamides, substances known to increase the cancer rate in animals and is considered to be a probable human carcinogen.

Although chocolate and cocoa powder don’t have extremely high levels of caffeine, they do have significant quantities of xanthines which are toxic to dogs and cats which is why you’re instructed not to give pets chocolate. Other drawbacks to excessive chocolate consumption include the rather high calorie load associated with most chocolate formulations.

If you want the health benefits of cocoa with fewer of the potential drawbacks, it’s best to consume as pure of a formulation of cocoa as possible with the lowest calorie content. Plus, it’s probably best to alternate chocolate and cocoa intake with green tea, red wine, and other health sources of antioxidants to maximize benefits with fewer negative effects. The conclusion? Dark chocolate and unprocessed cocoa powder can be a positive addition to a healthy diet if chosen and used wisely.

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Comments

  1. cocoa is great for health, just buy a tin of pure drinking chocolate, British companies are the best….My favorite is Cadbury’s, put just a half of a tsp of sugar and drink it in low-fat or skimmed milk……It;ll protect your heart a lot and reduce cholestrol and LDL!!!

  2. People often put cocoa and chocolate in the same category or see them as synonymous. They are not. As this article partially outlines, chocolate can contain a number of unhealthy products while pure cocoa does not. I buy organic cocoa powder. I drink of glass of it each night prior to going to bed. I put it in hot water and add agave for a sweetner. I really, really sleep well after drinking it. I would never put it in milk, as milk does not agree with me at all. I try to avoid chocolate as much as possible. Sometimes when I eat it, I break out in hives.

  3. Sandra, I have just discovered the many benefits of cocoa. Do you mind sharing the brand and source you purchase?

  4. I buy Hersheys unsweetened cocoa powder and use 2 tablespoons of that, a packet and a half of splenda, half milk and half water and you have delicious and healthy hot cocoa!

  5. I put one or two tablespoons of Hersheys unsweetened cocoa powder in a daily whey protein drink (chocolate or vanilla flavor whey protein with 8 oz of skim milk) and add a tablespoon of flax oil (omega 3’s). The result is a great tasting, smooth, rich chocolate flavor “dessert” that is a very healthy way to start my day following a morning workout.

  6. How much DARK COCOA POWDER (in VOLUME!!! so in mililitres or example, 3 Tablespoons) do we need to take daily to get the best benefit?

  7. I think regarding the negative effects of Cocoa Powder, the best bet to reduce all those unwanted substances is to get the Organic RAW Cocoa Powder by Sunfoods. From what I understand, it is of top quality from the cocoa bean selected to it’s process down to the final product of the Cocoa Powder.

    http://www.sunfood.com/buy/1/5/504/Cacao–Chocolate–Powder–16-oz–Sunfood–raw–certified-organic-/1004.aspx

    http://www.sunfood.com/MyPages/cacao-public-service-announcement.aspx

  8. Seems to me that the fact that this study was funded by the chocolate industry tell you something about it’s credibility right there!

  9. Does consuming Cadbury’s Cocoa Powder, when taken moderately (in plain hot water – unsweetened) affect the Uric Acid and Triglyceride levels??? – I’d appreciate receiving a medical advise on these two concerns.

    Thanks and awaiting to hear from you very eagerly

  10. I put a heaping tbsp of Hershey’s unsweetened powder into about 10 oz of water, bring to near boil, then simmer for about 45 seconds. Let it cool for a few minutes, then drink it straight up, nothing else added. I actually enjoy the taste.

  11. I get green and blacks cocoa powder as its organic and tastes soooo much better than cadbury bournville, and by starting with a small amount, you can build up to enjoying it dry straigt from carton, as it dissolves in the mouth you feel as if you have eaten a chocolate bar too, get that lift, so its great mood lifter and diet help as well.

  12. I use and sell the African cocoa powder…pure and natural with no additives. The potency is very high…cocoa powder is different from chocolate…I source for my products from Ile-Oluji, Ondo State, Nigeria…it is called Oluji Pure Cocoa Powder…any quantity can be obtained…call +2348022250110.

  13. I have heard so much about cocoa and also learned that cocoa pro keeps most of the flavanoids in chocolate. The flavanoids is what makes the chocolate so good. So try to find it without the high sugar content.

  14. Try this new “Brewable Cacao” bru…
    It is available at amazon/ebay and on their website: http://www.bruorganic.com.
    I know they are working on the site but I called them and they sent it right out!!
    It is FANTASTIC…100% Organic Ground Cacao…nothing better!!
    Far better for you than Hershey’s

  15. is cacao powder still 100% nutrient full after heating? I heard it was not.Please email me if you know,

  16. There is a slight reduction of nutrients after heating but..it beats eating raw cacao with the possibility of Salmonella!!!

  17. stephen brown says:

    Cocoa powder, Natural and Alkalized, made from fermented cocoa beans, produced by top
    Ghanaian producers & factory, approved quality and competitive price.Alkalized Cocoa Powder:1)
    Fineness: 99.0 – 99.7% through 200 micron sieve 2) Fat content: 10-12…

  18. Nick Lopez says:

    Where can I buy this Produck

  19. ngase tobins says:

    Cocoa keeps ur body and your state of mind fresh

  20. Im doing a study on the effects of cocoa on blood pressure. Its a proven fact that cocoa intake lower your blood pressure! stick to high-flavonal cocoa and you will see a decrese in blood pressure in a matter of hours(:

  21. ALUYA MUDIAGA says:

    The benefit of what nature provides out way artificially produced ones.Pure cocoa powder without additive is far beneficial compared to its flaws.Aside the ones mention above it is good for diabetic patients as it help in raising the level of insulin;have seen it work.In short i took it with pap this morning.Nothing is as refreshing as it.Care for one around LAGOS,Nigeria.mail amudiaga@ymail.com.

  22. We put two tablespoons of Hershey’s unsweetened cocoa powder per cup, a table spoon of honey in almond milk along with a tablespoon of vanilla extract, and heat. Tastes good and we feel good about drinking it. Warms you all over.

  23. katherine mittry says:

    I started take organic cocoa powder every morning half teaspoon, mixing it with soy milk and add, little of blue-agave for sweeting it. Few days ago I had a physical my blood presure was 120/65 pretty good For aged 69 and today I had to tested by my ophalmologist. . He ditect glafcauma just at the start Today he was surprized to see the presure of my optic nervre was a lot lower than 6 months ago..I do think that is the result of taking cocoa. Now
    I anxiously waiting for my results on my lipid panel for my cholesterol
    I will be more amazing if it works there too I will let you know

  24. salako daniel says:

    This write-up is cool but it would do well to clearly differentiate between cocoa and chocolate. Cocoa (with its raw, bitter but refreshing taste) in itself is 100% beneficial to the body but the chocolate isn’t because of so many other additives. Sugar, milk etc. Try raw cocoa powder with honey to sweeten it and I think you have in your hand, the best beverage ever.

  25. Do not eat cocoa/cacao that has been processed with alkali because it destroys the flavonols which is why you should be taking it in the first place. One that I am currently taking is raw cacao powerder from Navita Naturals. I paid 25.00 for two one pound packages on Amazon. If someone finds raw chocolate cacao powder that has not been processed with alkali and that is cold pressed and milled at low temperature, please let me know. I am always looking for a better value.

  26. Jerry Harrigan says:

    Sorry for the repeat, I left my last name out by mistake.
    Do not eat cocoa/cacao that has been processed with alkali because it destroys the flavonols which is why you should be taking it in the first place. One that I am currently taking is raw cacao powerder from Navita Naturals. I paid 25.00 for two one pound packages on Amazon. If someone finds raw chocolate cacao powder that has not been processed with alkali and that is cold pressed and milled at low temperature, please let me know. I am always looking for a better value.

  27. This is the brand that I recently started using. It is called AH!laska Unsweetened baker’s chocolate.

    http://www.cosmosveganshoppe.com/Merchant2/merchant.mvc?Screen=PROD&Product_Code=AHBC20

    It contains 100% non-alkaline cocoa and it tastes like a dream. Mix it with warm soy milk for a tasty treat. It is so smooth and creamy in texture, it does not require added sugar (it even contains 1 g each of fiber and protein). I have tried other brands (Hershey’s, as well as expensive gourmet chocolates) and none have the flavor and uplifting effects that this product does. It is also 100% organic and fairly traded, which is important to me. I got the product at Whole Foods market in the United States, but it is available on drugstore.com and amazon.com. It is more expensive than Hershey’s, but less expensive than designer brands, like Scharfenberger (now owned by Hershey’s), Ghiradelli, or Dagoba.
    Someone here said that cocoa can’t be good because of the sugar content, but cocoa doesn’t naturally contain sugar. It is added, along with other flavors and chemicals. Go for the most natural product you can find, containing the least ingredients. The product I’ve mentioned only has ONE.

  28. katherine Mittry says:

    Amasing results on my lipid test with in 2 months taking cocoa organic every-day My cholesterol from 229 is 158
    My tryglycerines from 177 now 88
    and the most incretable my platelets increase from120 to 177 thousants
    Grateful to humble nature protuct KM

  29. Glenda Taylor says:

    I purchase Chatfield’s all natural cocoa powder unsweetened alkaline-free. It is wonderful,healthy and I use it with soy milk,honey, cinnamon, and a dab of nutmeg. Try it. It is delicious.

  30. I put cocoa in my homemade Pumpernickel bread… yum!

    Also, I find that chocolate bores me unless it is paired with an intense fruit, such orange rind or raspberry jam. Then it amazes me.

    I am allergic to heavily processed chocolate (Oreos, Fudge) and it gives me headaches, but cocoa, in moderation never bothers me.

  31. this stuff called coco pure has a bunch of green tea extract and cocoa powder it tastes really good and has 0 calories or sugar check it out

  32. Bodybuilder says:

    I bought a store brand of Cocoa powder and I drank it last night in some skim milk. I slept SOLID like a big baby.

    For the anti oxidant effect the doctor on TV said not to mix it with milk.
    Milk cancels out the antioxidant effect.
    So I sprinkled some on my apple and I took some without milk just with a spoon.
    But hold your breath when putting it in your mouth so you don’t breath the powder into your lungs.

    Basically doctors are idiot puppets of the pharmaceutical companies.
    There are lots of inexpensive natural medicines in our foods that can help us with out making the the pharmaceutical companies richer and richer and without tons of side effects for which the puppet doctors give us more pills to treat the side effects.

    I take garlic, brazil nuts, mackeral, omega fish oil, skim cheeze, chicken, olive oil, cottage cheeze and I feel better, free of the doctors who just see us as cash cows.

  33. Douglas Popojolios says:

    I checked the can of Cocoa powder nutrition label and there is 0 g of sugar and 0.5 g of fat so what the heck are they talking about that Cocoa is unhealthy? I don’t know!

  34. Cocoa Lover says:

    I live in Dubai, and found a new product, called (Thamarat), which is a confectionary made of dates and 100% dark chocolate. It has no added sugar, and it is transfat free. I tried it, it is great taste & very healthy.
    here its website:
    http://www.thamarats.com

  35. Chocoholic_dxb says:

    @Cocoa Lover: Thank you for sharing this info about Thamarat. Actually I have also tried this product. It has a fantastic taste and the best thing is that it is without added sugar. They also have a fan page on facebook by the name of ‘Thamarat Chocolate’. Last weekend I went to Spinneys store in Jumeirah and was surprised to find it there. Upon my inquiry, I was told that it is available across all Spinneys and Waitrose stores in Dubai, Sharjah and Abu Dhabi. Hope this information helps!

  36. For me the best and healthiest preparation for eating cocoa is with oatmeal. Cook it like a porridge. Boil water, then add a teaspoon of powdered cocoa, then add a cup of quick-cooking oatmeal. It takes less than 5 minutes preparation. I put a bit of sugar and milk to it and it’s so good. I eat for my breakfast almost everyday. It’s also helps a lot in the regularity of eliminating the toxic waste from your body.

  37. READ THE INGREDIENT LABEL on the tin before buying any cocoa! you want the only ingredient to be cocoa. some companies add preservatives like variations of sodium. you dont want preservatives in your body! the only ingredient listed should only be cocoa

  38. Bradley Guthke says:

    I did not know that cocoa had so much health benifits

  39. Because cocoa powder lowers blood pressure and improves blood flow I can have my chocolate cake and eat it too, lol!

  40. This article states that cocoa contains flavanoids which are “capable of acting as antioxidants to counteract some of the cellular damage that can lead to chronic diseases such as cancer and heart disease.” It also states that “cocoa powder has been found to contain high levels of acrylamides, substances known to increase the cancer rate in animals and is considered to be a probable human carcinogen”. Are these acrylamides due to additions to cocoa during processing? How can cocoa contain both carcinogenic and anti-carcinogenic substances at the same time. Please clarify.

  41. can you tell me if Hersheys unsweetened cocoa has the benefits of cocoa or am i just wasting time effort and money

  42. heather-mae celins says:

    I started drinking cocoa a year ago, as an alternative to coffee, I used to drink black unsweetened coffee, so it was natural for me to drink cacoa the same way. I didn’t know anything about the health benefits, and I was amazed when with-in two days the pain I was experiencing dueing to a sciatica nerve problem disappeared and hasn’t returned, it’s sold me on cacoa. Heather-mae

  43. EDDY UKORAH says:

    The truth is that the pure natural cocoa is not the same as chocolate as has been said by various contributors above. To have the full health benefits of cocoa, it is advisable to go for the pure natural cocoa powder without additives. It can be sourced from Nigeria here. Nigeria as a cocoa producing country has the best of this important life-saving product. I can help you source it. Tel.2348098244889 , email: eukorah@yahoo.com

  44. anonymous says:

    It’s breathtaking that a previous poster has referred to drinking chocolate as healthy and for citing commercial brands such as Cadbury as healthy. It’s misleading to refer to such products as healthy when they are laden with sugar and fat.

    What is undoubtedly healthy however is pure unadulterated cocoa powder which has no sugar added to it and only has fat that is naturally present in it rather than any additives and so on.

  45. Theresa Dsouza says:

    Does consuming Cadbury’s Cocoa Powder (unsweetened), when taken moderately (in plain hot skimmed milk – affect the Uric Acid and Triglyceride levels
    I have a histroy of Uric Acid but never suffered from Gout.

  46. Cocoa is the best, great feeling and health benefits check out cocoawell from the resvitale brand available at Gnc, amazing outstanding antioxidant in pill form it is by far the highest potency out there

  47. I have had sleep problems and nightmares all of my life. Now at fifty five I eat cocoa that is low in fat and calories and 65% cocoa and I sleep well and the nightmares are gone. I would love to know why? But., no matter why . This is such a big deal in my life….

  48. bert Callaway says:

    I was using Natural hershey cocoa powder in my oatmeal. I used a big heaping tablespoon full. All of a sudden I developed inflamed ureter. I stopped the cocoa and it went away. I checked it out and found that cocoa was one of the causes for this problem. Yes, Virginia,there is always a Grinch. You can get too much of a good thing.

  49. Ayanrinde says:

    Did pure cocoa powder cure COUGH? If yes. HOW?

  50. Cynthia says:

    I so love Cocoa Powder, I used to have trouble in conceiving and one of my friends told me to drink cocoa powder & klim milk. Now I am 3months preggies.

  51. Hey guys,
    Am I the only one who thinks if this can poison dogs then maybe we shouldn’t eat it? Yeah, it’s delicious but I believe we may be deluding ourselves into thinking that this is “good” for us when there is evidence to prove otherwise…Just food for thought. =)

  52. Fry’s cocoa makes me sleep soundly.

  53. Too much cocoa make you sleepy.

  54. larry pierce says:

    I use Hersheys natural unsweetened. I put a tablespoon into a glass of almond milk unsweetened. I eat a banana while drinking the cocoa it sweetens the drink.

  55. try adding cocoa powder to a banana avacado smoothie with cocoanut milk, Now that’s healthy!

  56. What do you guys think of Green and Blacks organic cocoa? I been drinking it with semi-skimmed milk, no sugar, tried it with water but it wasn’t for me. The only ingredients are organic cocoa powder, acidity regulator and potassium carbonate.

  57. DO yourself a favour and buy raw cacoa beans still in their shells peel and consume in anyway you like, No sugar No milk.
    Grind, smash,or even eat whole, But do not heat as it removes the really good chemicals, yes they take a little getting used to but once you get the taste for them WOW. oh WOW, All the benifts are just an added bonus. You can buy them from thecocoaman79 on ebay a kilo at a time, I am not trying to promote him but thank him for my introduction to the bean.
    I consume around 10 a day and they make me feel fantastic, I take the lid off my storage jar and smell the wonderful aroma and tingle inside at the anticipation of the delights I am about to encounter, Amen to the cacoaman79

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