Do you want to know more about cocoa powder nutrition? Here’s a list of facts proving that it adds more than flavor to food.
Cocoa Powder Nutrition Facts: 7 Reasons to Add Some Cocoa to Your Diet
1. It Helps Reduce the Risk of Heart Disease
Cocoa powder is on par with your fruits and vegetables. It also contains polyphenols, which are naturally occurring antioxidants.
It is abundant in flavanols, which affect your body in the following ways:
- They help produce nitric oxide, which is a kind of gas that dilates your blood vessels.
- The polyphenols can decrease your cholesterol levels.
- They can increase blood flow to the brain.
Cholesterol is an essential lipid in the body, but it needs balance. Too much bad cholesterol or LDL (low-density lipoprotein) may increase your risk of heart disease.
LDL contributes to the formation of plaques around the blood vessels. These plaques can decrease the blood’s pathway, forcing the heart to work harder.
Nitric oxide supports the blood vessels by keeping them as open as possible. You can then reduce the odds of heart disease and its related conditions:
2. It May Enhance Insulin Function in Diabetics
Diabetes affects millions of Americans. Some of them even remain undiagnosed until the symptoms are worse.
It is a metabolic condition that develops due to problems with the production of insulin, a hormone the body uses to deliver glucose to cells, which then utilizes it as fuel.
With diabetes, it could be that:
- The pancreas doesn’t produce insulin at all. It happens among those with type 1.
- You already have damaged beta cells in the pancreas. The organ cannot produce enough insulin anymore.
What are beta cells? These are cells in the pancreas that produce insulin.
One preventive tip is to reduce your consumption of added sugar. Another may be including a cocoa tree product in your recipes.
A 2017 study revealed that one of the benefits of cocoa powder is its ability to improve beta-cell function. It contains substances called epicatechin monomers.
These polyphenols allow the pancreas to respond better to blood sugar levels. There’s a caveat, though.
Not all cocoa powders are equal. If you want to maximize cocoa powder nutrition, grab the unsweetened ones.
The less processed it is, the more likely it contains higher levels of polyphenols. Natural ones taste acidic or bitter.
3. Cocoa Powder May Support Your Thyroid
People with hypothyroidism face a host of symptoms, such as:
- Brain fog
- Sluggish metabolism
- Weight gain
- Hair loss
All these occur because the thyroid glands are already inefficient in producing enough thyroid hormones. What has chocolate got to do with it, though?
There are two reasons. These are theobromine and trace minerals.
Theobromine is a naturally occurring alkaloid produced by the likes of a cocoa plant and green tea. This gives them a bitter taste and works similarly as caffeine in coffee.
In other words, it functions as a stimulant. You may need it when facing extreme fatigue or slow metabolism.
As you remember, it also helps increase blood flow to the brain. It may then reduce the impact of brain fog and enhance focus.
Cocoa powder nutrition also points out how it’s a good source of magnesium and zinc. A 2018 research linked magnesium deficiency with hypothyroidism.
The body also needs zinc to produce thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH). These are the ones that tell the thyroid gland to produce thyroid hormones.
Note: Too much theobromine may result in side effects, such as rapid heart rate, sweating, and headaches. If you have a thyroid problem, taking a supplement with the alkaloid such as Thyroid Support System is ideal.
4. It Can Help Reduce the Symptoms of Asthma and Other Respiratory Diseases
Nothing can replace chicken noodle soup as the ultimate comfort food when you’re sick. If you need a different flavor, though, cocoa powder can be it.
This powder can improve the symptoms of asthma, a common but complex respiratory condition. Its theobromine helps relax the smooth muscles to relieve yourself of coughing.
It also contains theophylline. This one opens the air’s passageway to the lungs so you can breathe better.
Both of these explain why people with respiratory diseases can still enjoy some unsweetened chocolate. Just remember, too much of it can result in side effects.
5. Cocoa Powder Can Help You Fight Obesity
Obesity is a risk factor for a long list of health problems. These already include:
- Hormone imbalances and thyroid issues
- Insulin resistance and diabetes
- Heart disease, hypertension, and stroke
- Chronic kidney disease
- Certain types of cancer
Even people with respiratory conditions should strive to achieve a healthy weight. This is especially true for those with chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder (COPD).
It’s a long-held belief that chocolates should be one of the no-nos. In reality, the cocoa powder helps fight obesity.
Cocoa benefits include:
- Helping balance your hormone levels (as mentioned above)
- Promoting ideal cholesterol levels
- Providing your body with fiber (A cup may contain about 29 grams of fiber!)
- Improving insulin function
- Speeding up your metabolism
- Preventing chronic inflammation
In one of the animal studies, mice fed with cocoa powder for two weeks showed a steady decline in weight loss. The difference was more significant among obese mice.
Another research involving mice showed that consumption of cocoa powder reduced triglyceride levels. It went down by as much as 33%.
6. Cocoa Enhances Your Mood and Brain Function
Do you need a pick-me-up for your sour mood? How about making yourself some hot Aztec chocolate?
Chocolates help make you feel better by increasing the production of endorphins. They call these the feel-good hormones.
They can reduce your feelings of stress and alleviate depressive symptoms. These hormones can even decrease your sensation or perception of pain.
That’s not all, though. Cocoa powder nutrition cites how it can also decrease the likelihood of dementia or cognitive decline.
Besides increasing blood flow to the brain, studies showed that flavanols could:
- Help create new brain cells
- Protect the brain from damage due to the anti-inflammatory properties of cocoa powder
- Prevent the death of many brain cells
7. It Takes Care of Your Teeth and Skin
Cocoa powder benefits also extend to your dental health and skin. For example, it can reduce acne, contrary to popular belief.
Its flavanols allow more blood to circulate in your skin, delivering the nutrients it needs. It also has components that help fight inflammation.
Meanwhile, a 2007 study in the British Dental Journal revealed the powder might even be more effective than fluoride in protecting the teeth. It can help harden the enamel to prevent cavities.
Cocoa powder nutrition shows not all you learn about food is a fact. Some types of food, such as chocolate, can help improve your well-being when consumed in moderation.
How do you incorporate cocoa powder in your diet? Share your tips in the comments section below!
- What Is A Stone Fruit And What Are Its Health Benefits?
- 7 Skin-Healing Foods For A Smooth Hydrated Complexion
- Redefining Medicine With Dr. William Seeds (PODCAST)