7 awesome health benefits of Cocoa powder
There are some people who love to gorge on chocolates and there are also some section of people who don’t like eating chocolates because they think it’s fattening and unhealthy.
Chocolates are made from cocoa powder, which is made by crushing cocoa beans and removing the fat or cocoa butter. There are three varieties of cocoa plant – Forastero, Criollo, and Trinitario.
Forastero is the widely used cocoa powder, comprising 80-90 per cent of the world production of cocoa. The Criollo variety is considered a delicacy and Trinitario is a hybrid of Forastero and Criollo.
Spanish conquerors introduced cocoa powder in Europe in the 16th century and from then on, it widely became popular as a medicine for promoting overall health.
Here are 7 health benefits of cocoa powder you probably don’t know:
1. Reduces high blood pressure
Cocoa powder can help lower blood pressure by improving nitric oxide levels in the blood. This is due to the presence of flavanols, which can enhance the function of your blood vessels and lower blood pressure. The flavanol content between 30 to 1,218 mg in cocoa can significantly reduce blood pressure with an average of 2 mmHg.
2. Lowers depression
Cocoa powder contains flavanols, which has the ability to elevate mood and eliminate symptoms of depression. Cocoa powder further boosts serotonin levels, a neurotransmitter which acts as an antidepressant. A study found that consuming cocoa increases calmness and contentment, thus improving psychological well-being.
3. Aids in weight loss
Another benefit of cocoa powder is that it helps in managing weight by reducing appetite, regulating the use of energy, and increasing fat oxidation and feelings of fullness. A study published in the journal Archives of Internal Medicine showed that people who ate more chocolate frequently had a lower BMI (Body Mass Index) compared to people who ate less chocolate.
4. Improves heart health
The flavanol content in cocoa has been found to reduce LDL (bad) cholesterol which further lowers the risk of heart attack, heart failure, stroke and other heart diseases. Flavanol relaxes and dilates the blood vessels, which improves blood flow to the heart.
5. Controls type 2 diabetes symptoms
Studies have linked higher intake of flavanols with a lower risk of type 2 diabetes. Flavanols help improve blood sugar levels, reduce inflammation and lower insulin sensitivity. Consumption of cocoa has a positive impact on preventing and controlling type 2 diabetes.
6. Prevents cancer
The cancer-protective properties are attributed to the flavanols in cocoa. The antioxidant effects in flavanols fight inflammation, protects cells against oxidative damage, stops cancerous cell growth, and induces cancer cell death.
7. Enhances brain function
Cocoa has the potent ability to lower the risk of neurodegenerative diseases. The flavanols in cocoa can help improve brain function and blood flow by increasing the production of nitric oxide. This relaxes muscles of the blood vessels, thereby improving blood supply to the brain.
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