Cocoa Powder Nutrition, Benefits and Uses
The ancient Mayans of Central America were the first to discover the many benefits of natural cocoa powder. Throughout the centuries, this cocoa bean product has evolved from a mainstay in folk medicine to a principal ingredient in the production of chocolates. Modern research shows that this bittersweet powder can provide many benefits because of its amazing antioxidant properties. Learn more about this chocolate ingredient and what it can do for you and your family.
Cocoa Powder Nutrition Facts
Cocoa powder contains a number of flavanols that have powerful antioxidant effects. These include catechins, epicatechins, proanthocyanidins, and epigallocatechins, among others. In addition to these antioxidants, cocoa powder also contains the following nutrients.
A single ounce of dry cocoa powder contains 16.2 grams of carbohydrates. This accounts for about 20 percent of the calories that cocoa provides. It also contains about 9.3 grams of dietary fiber and only half a gram of sugars.
- Proteins and Fats
This is one aspect of cocoa powder nutrition that is surprising. An ounce of this powder provides 5.5 grams of protein. This already accounts for about 11 percent of the average daily protein requirement of an individual. An ounce of cocoa powder also contains about 3.8 grams of fat. More than 2 grams of these are saturated fat.
- Vitamins and Minerals
Cocoa powder is also rich in vitamins. It contains almost all of the fat-soluble vitamins except Vitamin D. All the vitamins that make up B-vitamin complex are also present. There is choline, too. Part of cocoa powder nutrition is its remarkable mineral profile. It is a good source of iron, magnesium, phosphorus, copper, and manganese. It can also provide adequate amounts of potassium, zinc, and selenium. Cocoa powder also contains trace amounts of calcium. The best part is that it doesn’t contain sodium.
- Other Nutrients
Two of the most important substances found in cocoa powder is theobromine and caffeine. These two substances provide some of the health benefits that people associate with this food. They work together with the natural antioxidants in cocoa powder to produce different effects in the human body.
Cocoa Powder Benefits
The nutrient profile of cocoa powder gives it the ability to help the body in different ways. Here is a look at some of the more important cocoa powder health benefits.
- Reduces Blood Pressure
Cocoa powder contains flavanols that have been proven to be effective in improving the levels of nitric oxide in the blood. This leads to an improvement in blood vessel function and lowering of blood pressure.
- Improves Brain Function
The relaxation of the blood vessels and improvement of blood flow can also lead to improvement in brain function. Brain cells require nutrients and oxygen to be able to function well. Improving blood flow to the brain also improves the different processes of the brain.
- Improves Mood
There are several mechanisms as to how cocoa can help improve mood. There is the improvement in cerebral blood flow because of the action of flavanols. There is also the increased production of serotonin by converting tryptophan. The caffeine and theobromine content of cocoa can also aid in addressing depression. Regardless of the exact mechanism at play, cocoa powder is one of the best foods to improve one’s mood.
- Lowers Risk of Stroke and Heart Attack
This is one of the cocoa powder health benefits that is very important to people who are already at the age of 40. By the 4th decade of life, the risk for cardiovascular events like heart attack and stroke also increases. Including cocoa powder in one’s diet can help lower the risk of such health condition. The flavanols in cocoa can help reduce the levels of LDL cholesterol in the blood, at the same time relax the blood vessels.
- Improves Type 2 Diabetes Symptoms
Flavanols can help slow down the rate of digestion and absorption of carbohydrates. It can also help improve the secretion of insulin while stimulating the more efficient uptake of insulin by muscle cells. It can also reduce insulin resistance in people with Type 2 Diabetes.
Cocoa Powder Uses
There are a few cocoa powder uses that some people are not aware of. While everyone knows that it is the main ingredient in making chocolates, cocoa can also have other uses.
- As an Ingredient in Different Foods and Beverages
The culinary uses of cocoa powder are endless. Its main use is in baking cakes, brownies, and other baked items that need a chocolatey taste. You can also add cocoa to your coffee or sprinkle it over fresh fruit. Salads will have a very interesting flavor with the addition of cocoa. One can also sprinkle cocoa powder on cereals, yogurts, and smoothies. Adding it to peanut butter can make the spread a lot more delicious.
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- As an Exfoliating Scrub and Facial Mask
There are spas that use a blend of coconut oil, sugar, honey, and cocoa powder as an exfoliating scrub. The antioxidants found in cocoa can help promote skin regeneration. Its coarse texture can also help in the removal of dead skin cells. The same blend can serve as a DIY facial mask.
- As an Adjunct to Contemporary Treatments
One of the most important cocoa powder uses is in the management of heart disease and high blood pressure. There are now doctors who advise their patients to include cocoa in their diet as a means of lowering blood pressure. When combined with conventional antihypertensive medications, cocoa can be a great way to improve heart disease outcomes.
- As a Health Supplement
While there is insufficient evidence, there is no harm in using cocoa powder as a health supplement. It can help improve the health of the skin and provide energy. It can help address fatigue, depression, and anxiety. Cocoa powder can also aid in maintaining the optimum health of the liver and reduce insulin resistance among persons who are at risk of diabetes.
Natural cocoa powder is not only great for chocolates, beverages, and other types of food. It can also be a great adjunct to conventional treatments and as a health supplement. It is rich in antioxidants and nutrients that are instrumental in cocoa powder’s ability to provide many health benefits.
- 11 Health and Nutrition Benefits of Cocoa Powder – Healthline
- Cocoa, Dry Powder, Unsweetened Nutrition Facts & Calories – Nutrition Data
- Cocoa – WebMD