Cocoa has been used as a folk medicine throughout history. The Mayan, Aztecs and Incas regarded cocoa as the food of Gods. Cocoa is delicious and healthy, but its health benefits can be obtained only if cocoa is consumed in reasonable amounts.
Health Benefits of Cocoa
Lowers Blood Pressure
According to studies, cocoa helps to regulate blood pressure, improves blood flow and lowers the risk of hypertension. But, it must be noted that these medicinal properties only come from dark or unsweetened cocoa. These benefits come from cocoa compounds, flavonoids which are antioxidants commonly found in tea, wine, coffee, fruits and vegetables. Flavonoids act by reducing the systolic and diastolic blood pressure. Cocoa powder and cocoa seeds also contain polyphenols which help to prevent cardiovascular diseases. One should consume 3 to 4 cups of cocoa on a daily basis to improve blood vessel health.
Fights Skin Problems
Cocoa is also beneficial to facial skin. It fights against skin changes caused by regular exposure to sun such as pigmentation, dark spots and premature aging. Some researchers believe that cocoa has anti-cancer properties thus preventing skin cancer. Additionally, high-flavanol content of cocoa helps in treatment of acne and gives glow to the skin. For healthy skin, cocoa must be included in a daily diet.
Cocoa is also an excellent antidepressant. This property is seen in polyphenolic extract which is obtained from non-roasted cocoa beans that are great source of flavonoids. However, it is not recommended to people who are prone to panic attacks and anxiety.
Source of Antioxidants
Organic cocoa contains plenty of antioxidants such as phenolic compounds also found in red wine and green tea. But it contains much more antioxidants comparing to these drinks. Polyphenols help to slow down aging process and detoxify the body.
Other Cocoa Health Benefits
Cocoa helps to improve digestion and treat constipation. It also has uplifting effect and increases energy levels. Flavonoids found in cocoa help to regulate blood sugar levels and reduce the risk of diabetes. Cocoa also lowers the chance of having stroke, heart attack and cancer. Additionally, breastfeeding women may benefit from cocoa as it increases breast milk production.
The most of cocoa benefits can be obtained from drinking it, preferably without sugar or any other sweetener. Here is a recipe for healthy hot chocolate.
- 1 cup water
- ¼ cup cocoa powder
- ½ teaspoon cinnamon
- 1 cup milk
Boil the water in a skillet then add cocoa powder and let it boil for 2 minutes. Add cinnamon and boil it for another 2 minutes. Finally, add milk and bring it boil then lower the heat and boil it until the mixture thickens. Drink it while it's hot.