Cocoa powder is not one of those things that you are going to eat a lot of in one sitting (and probably for good reason), but it does have a lot of advantages. When you hear “cocoa”, you typically don’t think of something that would be healthy for you. It brings up images of chocolate and sugary cereals that can be detrimental to your health. The cocoa we’re talking about, though, is the type you would find in dark chocolate, which is much better for you.
Even taken in small amounts, cocoa powder brings a ton of nutrients that your body will benefit from. The easiest ways to add cocoa powder into your diet is by mixing it with healthy foods such as fruit or yogurt. Finding other ways might be simpler than you think, and you’ll be happy that you did. Let’s take a look why as we breakdown the nutritional value of cocoa powder and its proven health benefits.
Nutrition of Cocoa Powder
One ounce of dry and unsweetened cocoa powder doesn’t have as many calories as you might think, with only around 60 in each serving. That same serving gets you 11 percent of the daily recommendation of protein with 5.5 grams. You’re also getting a ton of fiber, with more than a third of your daily value. There aren’t too many vitamins, but each serving of cocoa powder contains a small amount of riboflavin, vitamin K, niacin, folate and more.
The mineral count is where cocoa really shines, with several significant sources. Copper and manganese are the big ones, with more than half of your daily recommended value. Magnesium (35 percent), iron (22 percent) and phosphorus (21 percent) are also huge. Potassium and zinc even follow up with more than 10 percent, and you’re still getting some calcium and selenium. The best news is, there isn’t any cholesterol and very little sugar.
Good For the Heart
Even if cocoa powder provided just one benefit for your heart health, that would be enough, but it adds several. For starters, cocoa powder contains flavonols, which have been shown to reduce your chances of heart attacks and strokes. As a result, you’ll see a reduction in your blood pressure. Now, if you already have low blood pressure, this might be a bit detrimental. It seems these days, more people suffer from high blood pressure, though.
Cocoa has also shown to have an effect on your cholesterol levels. Adding more cocoa to your diet (and this is according to studies) have shown a reduction in LDL (bad) cholesterol and triglycerides. As an added bonus, patients also had an increase in their HDL (cholesterol) levels. There was even a positive benefit for glucose, making cocoa good for those looking to control their blood sugar or diabetes.
Cocoa powder has so many positive effects on your brain that there’s almost too many to list. In general, cocoa is a great mood booster that has been shown to increase anandamide and endorphins that make you feel better and more active throughout the day. For that reason, some have even called cocoa an aphrodisiac, and a great way to get through mood swings during certain parts of the month.
While cocoa powder provides short term benefits, you’ll also get some long term ones for your overall brain health. Studies show that more cocoa increases the amount of blood flow to your brain, reducing your chances of neurological diseases while improving memory. So when someone tells you that eating cocoa won’t make you feel better, let them know about those facts.
Some people say that when you feel better, you’ll look better. That’s the case with cocoa powder, as it also has a good effect on your exterior. Cocoa powder is filled with antioxidants that can fight free radicals which lead to early signs of aging. People have even used cocoa powder as a way of healing wounds throughout the years, as they can remove bacteria from that wound.
Your skin can also become damaged from the UV rays of the sun. To protect yourself, you should be getting more flavonoids that you’ll find in cocoa. With more oxygen in your blood, your skin will have an overall better look and is less likely to crack or break. Cocoa also promotes your body’s ability to grow stronger and thicker hair and nails.
Cocoa is surprisingly low in calories, so adding some throughout the day to the tune of just an ounce only adds about 60 calories. With an improved amount of energy and mood with less fatigue, you’ll probably find yourself more active, which alone can burn more than enough calories that you took in from the cocoa itself.
Cocoa powder has also been shown to help you reduce your appetite while also burning fat. Your brain reduces serotonin when eating cocoa, which is a big basis of energy. Studies have also shown that your body will release more cortisol, a hormone that is instrumental in boosting your metabolism. There is a reason why so many exercise supplements these days contain cocoa powder, as it goes a long way.
Those that suffer from digestive issues ranging from constipation to abdominal pain should take a regular amount of cocoa in their diet. Studies show that you can make your bowels more regular without adding negative side effects. There is also a strong amount of fiber in each ounce of cocoa powder, making a huge improvement to your overall digestive health. In return, your body will be less likely to develop cancers in the colon and other parts of your digestive system. That’s a win-win for everybody.
Summing it Up
There aren’t too many negative things you can say about cocoa since it’s the healthiest form of chocolate you can really find. With the caffeine amount, you have to be a little careful if you’re trying to not to get too overstimulated. There are also some people who might be allergic to cocoa, which could cause a skin reaction. However, most people are not close to being dangerously allergic like with peanuts or shellfish.
If you’re not used to caffeine, then you might see some negative side effects from too much cocoa, but you would have to have quite a bit. With most people getting too much caffeine as it is, you probably won’t even notice a difference. Having said that, just make sure to watch your caffeine intake (with cocoa included) and you’ll start seeing the benefits from eating more of the powder in your diet.