There are some people who love to gorge on chocolates and there are also some section of people who don't like eating chocolates because they think it's fattening and unhealthy. Chocolates are made from cocoa powder, which is made by crushing cocoa beans and removing the fat or cocoa butter.
There are three varieties of cocoa plant - Forastero, Criollo, and Trinitario. Forastero is the widely used cocoa powder, comprising 80-90 per cent of the world production of cocoa.
Health Benefits of Cocoa Powder
- Lowers depression
Cocoa powder contains flavanols, which has the ability to elevate mood and eliminate symptoms of depression. Cocoa powder further boosts serotonin levels, a neurotransmitter which acts as an antidepressant. A study found that consuming cocoa increases calmness and contentment, thus improving psychological well-being
- Aids in weight loss
Another benefit of cocoa powder is that it helps in managing weight by reducing appetite, regulating the use of energy, and increasing fat oxidation and feelings of fullness. A study published in the journal Archives of Internal Medicine showed that people who ate more chocolate frequently had a lower BMI (Body Mass Index) compared to people who ate less chocolate
- Prevents cancer
The cancer-protective properties are attributed to the flavanols in cocoa. The antioxidant effect in flavanols fight inflammation, protect cells against oxidative damage, stops cancerous cell growth, and induces cancer cell death
- Enhances brain function
Cocoa has the potent ability to lower the risk of neurodegenerative diseases. The flavanols in cocoa can help improve brain function and blood flow by increasing the production of nitric oxide. This relaxes muscles of the blood vessels, thereby improving blood supply to the brain
- Improves skin
According to studies, the polyphenols in cocoa have been shown to benefit your skin in many ways. These include improving blood circulation in the skin, protecting the skin from UV rays, increasing skin hydration and improving skin texture
Ways to Include Cocoa into Your Diet
- Consume dark chocolate
- Mix cocoa powder in a glass of milk and make chocolate milkshake.
- Add cocoa powder to puddings, sweets and desserts.
- Add cocoa powder to smoothies to get a rich chocolate taste.
- Sprinkle cocoa powder to your fruit bowl. - Alekhya Reddy and Pic courtesy: pixabay.com