Cocoa, one of nature’s many miracles, is in fact the great super-food that many people seek. Cocoa makes other so-called super-fruits pale in comparison. Cocoa is a titan of health benefits, the likes of which humanity has never known. It is the profound medicine that scientists and researchers toil to discover. If cocoa were a pharmaceutical drug, it would be hailed as the greatest medicine of all time, and its discoverer would reap the Nobel prize in Medicine. Cocoa is all of that. Cocoa is right out in the open, more protective than any other food, and more powerful than any medicine ever devised.
Over the past dozen of years or so, a steady stream of science has emerged, showing that cocoa and the confection made from it (chocolate) possess extraordinary life-imbuing and disease-fighting properties. Most notably, cocoa demonstrates significant benefits for the cardiovascular system, helping to reduce the risk of heart attack and stroke, reduce the risk of high blood pressure, and even reduce the risk of cancer. Furthermore, cocoa consumption is associated with reduced cognitive decline in old age.
Cocoa contains over 700 known compounds. And for all we know, there may be many more that remain undiscovered. Of particular interest to scientists are the antioxidant compounds in cocoa. Antioxidants are compounds that plants manufacture to prevent their own cells from premature destruction due to exposure to heat, light, air, moisture and time. In the human body, many of these compounds prevent reactive oxygen species (ROS) from destroying cells and causing premature aging and disease. Cocoa is especially rich in polyphenols, a group of protective antioxidant compounds found in many plant foods such as red wine and tea, and which are the subjects of scientific investigation for their beneficial influence on cardiovascular health. The polyphenols include anthocyanins, isoflavones, flavanones, flavonols, flavanols, and flavones. Of special interest to health researchers are flavanols in cocoa, including flavan-3-ols, catechins, epicatechins and proanthocyanidins. These naturally-occurring substances not only protect the cells of our bodies from premature destruction, but they also help to reduce the risk of killer diseases.
Another dimension of the benefits of cocoa and chocolate consumption concerns mood. Cocoa is rich in agents that enhance the production of various feel-good chemicals in the brain, notably serotonin and dopamine. This means that cocoa possesses anti-depressant, mood-elevating properties. This is no surprise to the any millions of people who self medicate with chocolate every day.
In addition to the above possible health benefits of cocoa powder, UMIM says that cocoa may lower LDL cholesterol, reduce the risk of blood clots, increase blood flow to the arteries, lower high blood pressure, boost cognitive performance and provide essential minerals such as calcium and potassium.
Cocoa also contains approximately 43.6 mg of flavonoids per gram. Flavonoids are part of a powerful group of antioxidants known as polyphenols, and according to Medical News Today, cocoa is one of the highest polyphenol-containing foods. In addition, hot cocoa contains more antioxidants per cup than a serving of red wine or tea, and Science Daily explains it may even be the healthiest choice of the three. Science Daily also states that drinking cocoa may help to fight cancer, heart disease and aging through its antioxidant boosting effect. Medical News Today warns however that most commercial cocoa powders have the antioxidant-containing flavonoids removed because they taste bitter; therefore, in order to obtain the health boosting benefits, consider buying raw cocoa powder, which is a minimally processed cocoa powder.
According to Elson Hass in his book “Staying Healthy With Nutrition,” cocoa may provide antidepressant benefits. He explains that cocoa contains the substance phenethylamine, which is a neurotransmitter found in the brain that acts as a mood elevator and natural antidepressant.The University of Michigan Health System (UMIM) states that cocoa may also have the ability to boost endorphins, which act as natural “happy” opiates and are responsible for the highs that are often felt after exercising, laughing, having sex or winning the lottery. Finally, UMIM says that cocoa may boost serotonin, which is the neurotransmitter that antidepressants target in order to boost overall happiness levels.
Cacao contains one of the highest levels of antioxidants on the planet, exceeding that of red wine, green tea and many other exotic fruits and vegetables. Our Raw Heirloom Criollo Extra Rich Organic Cacao powder is high in the mineral magnesium and recent scientific studies have shown that cacao boosts blood flow to the heart, brain and other organs and while also, having protective effects against heart disease. It has also been shown to be helpful in lowering blood glucose levels. Cacao, ‘the food of the gods’ has been traditionally used for centuries to boost energy and enhance mood.
Researchers found that a cocoa extract – called lavado – may reduce or block damage to nerve pathways found in patients with Alzheimer’s disease. This means that symptoms of the condition – such as cognitive decline – could be prevented.