Top 10 Cacao Powder Benefits
Before we lose ourselves to the astounding cacao benefits (because seriously, it really is that amazing), let us first discuss the three main end products extracted from this amazing fruit, that is, before it is used in making chocolates. The seeds or beans contained in cacao tree fruits are dried, roasted, and then ground into a paste-like consistency after being fermented. The fat in the paste is the cacao butter. What remains after the cacao butter is removed is then mixed into any cocoa solids, forming cacao powder or cocoa powder.
In 2 minutes or less, you can get the diet plan that will turn your body into a fat burning machine.
Cacao powder is a perfect main ingredient to make any raw chocolate desserts with its rich, strong, and dark bitter flavor. You can blend cacao powder into your much-loved smoothies, or simply make your own homemade chocolates. Never forget the traditional hot chocolate but either way, this superfood will never fail you for providing prolific health benefits. The daily recommended intake is 5 to 20 grams but this can usually be adjusted depending on your preference and experience. Raw cacao butter, on the other hand, is the healthy fat or oil content cold-pressed out of the cacao bean. While it’s also an ingredient for hard-set chocolates, cacao butter is amazing for massage or as a skin moisturizer. Now let us discuss all the astounding cacao benefits, starting with:
The Essential Minerals and Nutrients in Cacao Powder
Magnesium, important for nervous system functioning, energy production, muscle and bones maintenances, and cardiovascular support among others, covers up to 9% of the recommended daily intake of essential minerals together with iron, manganese, etc. in just a tablespoon of unsweetened cocoa powder. Almost all of the benefits listed here include magnesium one way or another. Then there are flavanols which do not only promote digestive health by being prebiotic, maintaining the gut microbiome necessary to keep the digestion on its optimum level, but also boosting blood circulation. It’s mind-blowing to know also that the antioxidants contained in cacao powder are 40 times than that of blueberries. And of course, calcium, with 160mg per hundred gram compared to 125mg that of cow’s milk; and iron, a 7.3mg per hundred gram making it the highest plant-based source of iron ever. There are just too many cacao benefits we can wrap our heads around.
Protection for the Heart
Among the cacao, benefits are flavanols, a naturally occurring antioxidant in cacao powder has an anti-inflammatory property that helps improve heart health and protect it against various cardiovascular diseases. Moreover, consuming chocolate made from cacao lessens the risk of stroke. The flavonoid antioxidants also aid in relaxing your blood vessels by causing the body to further produce nitric oxide, which is being used by the inner lining of the blood vessels, called endothelium, to signal the muscle to relax. This will result in vasodilation—the dilatation of blood vessels—which in turn decreases blood pressure and increases blood flow. Japanese researchers also reported that making a drink out of cocoa powder can augment HDL (or good) cholesterol level. Polyphenol, another antioxidant, is specifically responsible for this, preventing the hardening of arteries—called atherosclerosis—in the process.
Increase Metabolism and Digestion
Cacao butter is considered a good fat. Since it is 100% plant-based, those opting for a more vegan lifestyle that includes getting healthier and saturated fats will find it extremely beneficial. Being rich in antioxidants and fatty acids such as stearic acid and oleic acid are also noteworthy. And with its hormone-regulating qualities, together with minerals like magnesium, one will not find any problem with his metabolism and even digestive woes like constipation as cacao butter addresses it all. If you are into losing weight, then don’t ignore cacao powder since its MAO inhibitors will help shrink your appetite. But perhaps what is more important here is polyphenols, which augments the immune system in its battle against free radicals and inflammation, preventing potential serious illnesses in the long run.
It has become a habit for many to eat chocolate whenever they feel sad or just having a bad day. And there is no wonder for that since one of the cacao benefits include its ability to make you happy. A certain chocolate molecule called anandamide that was discovered 20 years ago binds to the cannabinoid receptors in the brain. You read it right; as the name suggests, these receptors are primarily activated by the psychoactive cannabis. So it is obvious cacao has the same effect of improving mood and causing euphoria. Cacao butter is also helpful especially when you are experiencing PMS. It balances hormones in the body and increases the neurotransmitters dopamine and serotonin. You can do this to your woman through a cacao butter massage. The next item, though is closely related to this effect discussed here, is a far more serious one.
As an Anti-depressant
Another significant compound contained in cacao powder is Phenylethylamine or PEA, a neuroregulatory chemical naturally occurring in the brain which is always related to the sensation of happiness or feeling good. Remember that depression is always associated with a deficiency of the neurotransmitters serotonin, tyrosine, and tryptophan which, as stated just above, are scientifically proven bliss chemicals that affect the mood. Being sad is different from being depressed. Though a combination of treatment is needed to address this mental condition, a healthy diet comprising mood-boosting superfoods like cacao powder will be helpful. Aside from all this, phenethylamine is also consumed to improve athletic performance, a lack of attention, and weight loss, with the latter two being a symptom of depression.
An Effective Aphrodisiac
If you find it hard to be in the mood these days, try consuming cacao since it has been traditionally considered an aphrodisiac, a food or drug that is believed to stimulate sexual desire or libido in people. A chemical compound called phenethylamine or PEA stimulates the release of endorphins and serotonin that altogether enhances the mood for pleasurable activities. We release these opium-like neurochemicals naturally during sexual activities and even as simple as falling in love. In fact, the building block of serotonin—called tryptophan—is also contained in cocoa. No wonder people love to give chocolates as gifts during Valentine’s Day. You can search for any easy-to-do recipes using cocoa powder as the main ingredient in the web for your special someone to fully enjoy these cacao benefits.
Boosts Energy and Fights Fatigue
One of the effects of magnesium and iron discussed above is its ability to generate energy and fight against fatigue. Just make sure to consume dark chocolate bar made from cocoa powder, that is at least 70% cocoa up to 85% or more, and contains lesser sugar as possible to fully enjoy the caffeine boost in the most natural way. You won’t find yourself addicted to it anyhow compared to the less nutritious white or milk chocolates. Yet this is not just physical exhaustion we are talking about. Cacao benefits also include battling mental fatigue. And as you read on, it furthers that by improving cognition.
Augments Skin Care
Polyphenol antioxidants contained in cacao powder keep the cells away from premature oxidation and improves elasticity and collagen synthesis, not only making you look and feel younger but also giving your skin a healthy texture, glowing look, and wrinkle-free appearance. Its package also protect your skin against harmful Ultraviolet rays from the sun that can definitely lead to skin cancer. Or even sunburns, as consuming cacao for roughly 12 weeks will rev up your skin’s defenses. Try making a cocoa butter moisturizer by mixing and heating half a cup of both organic cocoa butter and organic coconut oil in a double boiler. Then freeze it for roughly 20 minutes before beating the mixture to achieve a thick whipped cream like consistency. Freeze it again for an hour before using and getting these incredible cacao benefits.
Enriches Cognitive Function
Cocoa powder that is used to make chocolates is, not surprisingly, effective as a brain-boosting superfood. A study done at the University of L’Aquila, Italy, revealed that cognitive functions among individuals with a precursor to Alzheimer’s disease—that is, mild cognitive impairment—is improved after consuming beverages made from cocoa powder every day for eight weeks. The naturally occurring compound flavanols is said to be responsible for boosting cognitive functions in attention, verbal fluency, and visual searching. This is aside from cocoa’s ability to increase blood circulation in the brain. A certain flavonol, in particular, is abundantly found as (-)- epicatechin, pronounced as “minus epicatechin”, that is unlike other catechins. Aside from triggering brain perfusion, it also stimulates the synthesis of neurons from existing neural stem cells, a process called neurogenesis, and the changes in nerve cells’ morphology.
Protects the Teeth
Some dentists rely on CBH, a crystalline extract whose chemical composition is akin to caffeine and is found in dark chocolates made from the cocoa powder that fortifies tooth enamel, to be more effective than the traditionally used fluoride in protecting the teeth; making one less at risk for tooth decay. They even believe that one day this compound will be used in oral care products like toothpaste and mouthwashes since research is mostly focused on animals. Antibacterial properties contained in cocoa fight bacteria that turns sugar into acids in the mouth. This acid erodes teeth surface causing cavities. Thus, the cacao benefits of dark chocolates are not really on par with other sweet foods dentists kept on warning us about due to their high sugar content. While it’s best to nibble on cacao nibs, raw or organic dark chocolates are best options as well as they are less processed, making antioxidants more complete.
The sky really is the limit for cacao benefits. That description would also be applicable to its various uses which you can easily follow to get the most out of this incredible superfood. Healthy Smoothie. Brownies. Hot chocolate. Skin moisturizer. Cacao spice rub. Surely there is no excuse for you to ignore cacao with all these exciting uses and amazing gains.