Pure cocoa, obtained with the least possible handling, is a healthy food with high antioxidant power.
Cocoa was highly valued in the Mayan Empire for its properties. The natives took it with water and in small quantities; for them it was a stimulating drink, very different from the chocolate loaded with sugar and milk that we find today.
Differentiate cocoa from chocolate. Because cocoa, the main ingredient of chocolate, does not retain its properties if taken with milk, sugars or other substances. And it also doesn’t retain its nutrients if subjected to high temperatures (during roasting).
Why is pure cocoa better than chocolate?
Cocoa is the low-fat powder that results from grinding the seeds of the cocoa tree. These seeds are extracted from inside the fruits, which are large and pod-shaped.
Cocoa and chocolate are not synonymous. Cocoa is the main ingredient in chocolate. At first it was taken as an infusion, but when it came to Europe sugar and milk were added to reduce the bitter taste.
Chocolate is a product that usually contains sugar, low quality fats or dairy, among other ingredients, if not of the highest quality. This is why it is important to know how to choose a healthy chocolate.
On the other hand, pure cocoa is rich in magnesium and iron (although this is not well absorbed), and provides calcium and phosphorus.
But above all, it stands out for the amount of antioxidant substances it provides, which have earned it an antioxidant score of 95,000 ORAC units per 100 grams of cocoa (a cup of blueberries, known for their great antioxidant power, has 13 427)
Properties of pure cocoa for health
The antioxidant richness of cocoa is largely responsible for its valuable physical and mental health benefits.
1. It puts us in a good mood
Pure cocoa helps the brain produce anandamide, a neurotransmitter responsible for feelings of euphoria and pleasure.
In addition, it contains serotonin and phenylethylamine, hormones that stimulate the feeling of well-being. Eye: they are addictive if abused.
2. Theobromine for muscles, kidneys and heart
Cocoa contains significant amounts of theobromine, an alkaloid similar to caffeine, but with less stimulating power on the nervous system.
According to traditional Chinese medicine, it has a beneficial effect on the muscles, kidneys and heart.
3. Regulates Blood Pressure
The antioxidant flavonoids it contains stimulate the production of nitric oxide.
This compound that promotes relaxation of blood vessels, increases blood flow and thus regulates blood pressure.
4. Helps maintain microbiota
Frequent consumption promotes the growth of healthy bacteria in our body, displacing “bad” bacteria and benefiting our immune system.
But the consumption should be moderate, with a high percentage of cocoa and no sugar or dairy products.
5. Helps lose weight
Its compounds have positive effects on weight loss and overweight control.
In addition, they regulate hormonal metabolism, improve insulin resistance, reduce fatty acid synthesis and increase heat production in fatty tissue.
How to consume pure cocoa to enjoy its benefits
The most advisable is to take cocoa in small quantities and outside meals, to take advantage of its properties and avoid its contraindications.
It is better to eat cocoa raw
Raw cacao retains its antioxidant flavonoids better because they break down with heat.
It can be very easy to have a healthy cocoa if you prepare it with kuzu, homemade almond milk and a natural sweetener like cinnamon or vanilla powder. The kuzu will help give the perfect cocoa texture to the cup, and we will avoid sugar and poor quality fats.
But in addition to consuming it in powder form, i.e. the ground seeds, other healthy cocoa products can be used, such as butter, paste or nibs:
- Cocoa butter: It is produced by pressing raw pasta at a temperature of 33-35˚C: the fat or butter melts and separates from the proteins and fibres. Cocoa butter is the main ingredient in chocolate due to its flavor and versatility.
- Tips: they are pieces of raw semen; They are distinguished by their bitter taste.
- Cocoa paste : it is obtained by pressing the seeds; It is used to make chocolate.
How to choose the best cocoa?
When buying chocolate, it is important that it is fair trade, organic and, if possible, raw. By choosing raw chocolate, which you will sometimes find in the form of raw chocolate, you have the guarantee that the manufacturing was done at low temperature and without loss of polyphenols or flavonoids.
The difference in antioxidants between raw and unraw chocolate can be as high as 70%.
The ideal is that the cocoa percentage is at least 70%, although if we find it in our store, the one with a cocoa percentage of 85% and that does not contain sugar will always be better.
Finally, it is also important to look at the order of the ingredients on the label: it is advisable to choose chocolates whose label mentions cocoa as the first ingredient, then cocoa paste or cocoa butter. As the last ingredient, the sweetener should appear as well as some ingredients like vanilla, for example.
Avoid chocolates that contain ingredients such as sugar, milk, soy…