All the incredible qualities of cocoa
Nervous system stimulant
If there is one food that helps us feel good every time we eat it, it is cocoa. Why? Basically because it contains a series of components that act as stimulants and euphoria.
This quality translates into something very simple: every time we eat a portion of pure cocoa or chocolate we achieve a pleasant sensation of well-being (1) due to the presence of phenylethylamine, which acts in the brain triggering a state of emotional well-being and euphoria.
Cocoa helps to increase the production of endorphins (2), hormones that improve our mood (3). In addition, we should not forget that it stands out as a tremendously energetic food, a quality that translates into something very simple: it helps us recover strength in situations of physical and mental fatigue, being useful to keep us more active.
Stimulating the digestive system
In addition to its qualities as a stimulant of our nervous system and our emotions, cocoa acts as an excellent digestive, as well as becoming a wonderful stimulant of our digestive system.
Good against constipation
On the other hand, several studies have confirmed the benefits of cocoa as a natural relief from constipation (4), thanks precisely to the fact that it becomes an ideal food for toning up and stimulating the digestive system.
But its qualities do not end here, since a study carried out by Louisiana State University (in the United States), found that certain substances present in cocoa reach the colon, where they are fermented by good microorganisms and bacteria present in our bacterial flora.
Excellent for maintaining good cardiovascular health
Did you know that cocoa is very rich in antioxidants? (5). These natural compounds are capable of preventing the very negative action of free radicals in our organism, helping to prevent the degeneration of our cells (responsible for the appearance of many diseases).
Because of this richness in antioxidants, cocoa is ideal for our cardiovascular system (6), preventing the appearance of heart disease. In addition, it helps to reduce cholesterol and triglycerides, while its richness in theobromine makes it an ideal food for increasing HDL cholesterol (7).
Good for the skin and against cellulite
These same benefits have a very important anti-cellulite, antioxidant and even softening activity, which are taken advantage of by chocolate therapy, a therapy that, as you will surely know, consists of applying it to the skin through massages.
The most interesting thing, apart from everything we have discussed so far, is its reducing capacity, ideal for people who want to take care of their line. However, this property would only be in the pure cocoa extract itself.
Recent studies have estimated that approximately 4 capsules of cocoa would provide the same amount of polyphenols as 2 tablets of 250 g. of dark chocolate. Therefore, cocoa is ideal as a fat-burning, reducing, antioxidant and anti-cellulite (8).
Other interesting benefits of cocoa
In addition to the qualities mentioned above, cocoa also has other interesting properties. What are they?
Protective effect in case of diabetes, thanks to its richness in polyphenols, which could help to reduce the risk of diabetes (9). This was also found in a review/metanalysis carried out in 2016 (10).
What are the main contraindications of cocoa?
Although cocoa is generally a natural food with many health benefits, the truth is that, as with any other food or drink, this does not prevent it from having its own contraindications.
In this sense, on the one hand, we must bear in mind that cocoa contains traces of caffeine, so its consumption is not advisable in cases of high blood pressure or nervous states.
On the other hand, as it contains active principles with astringent qualities, especially due to the presence of tannins, its consumption is not recommended either in case of constipation or hemorrhoids.
Nor can we forget something fundamental: it is not the same to eat pure cocoa as to consume it as we find it today in most cases: in the form of chocolates and chocolate bars with a high content of added sugars, a high amount of fat, and yet very little cocoa.
What is cocoa?
Cocoa consists basically of the seed of the tree named Theobroma cacao L., the popularly known cocoa tree, also called cocoa tree. It is a tree that belongs to the Malvaceae family, whose main habitat is tropical America, originating mainly in the Amazon basin and gradually extending to the south of present-day Mexico.
It has a fruit that is actually a berry, with an elongated shape, which turns red or yellow purple. This fruit is used for the production of both cocoa powder (dry and dark) and cocoa fat or butter (natural edible fat of the bean).
Cocoa, fundamentally as a food, exerts remarkable stimulating properties that comfort and revive our body. Not in vain, it is one of the best known foods that exist, especially because it is a product from which one of the most consumed desserts par excellence is obtained: chocolate.
This is because it is a natural product extremely rich in polyphenols that in fact provides an extremely interesting variety of health benefits and properties, capable of stimulating our body, comforting us and raising our spirits.
A good sample of its consumption is found in many of the products that, nowadays, we can enjoy from cocoa. In this sense, the bitter cocoa is obtained from clean cocoa beans, roasted and crushed. It is at this point that sugar and milk are usually added for the preparation of what is known as milk chocolate.