10 Cacao Benefits That Will Make You Want to Eat More Chocolate
Made from Theobroma tree beans, cacao power is the purest as well as natural form of chocolate that has been people's favorite since ancient times. Not only does it have a delicious taste but also comprises several important nutrients that provide remarkable health benefits.
This raw superfood is high in iron, magnesium, and zinc along with being one of the rich sources of antioxidants. The nutrients present in cacao maintains overall health and happiness. This article discusses the benefits of consuming cacao, its nutritional benefits as well as ways to consume it.
1. Improve Cognitive Function
Consuming cacao regularly can improve brain health and reduce mental fatigue due to the presence of theobromine, caffeine, and flavonols. Flavonoids get absorbed into the bloodstream and accumulate in the hippocampus, which improves memory and learning.
Moreover, flavonoids lower the risk of getting dementia and help patients suffering from Alzheimer's as per a few studies. Another research showed that consuming cacao regularly improves blood flow and oxygen flow to the brain by increasing the level of neurotrophins.
2. Benefits Metabolic Health
As we know cacao contains high levels of flavonoids, which are plant pigments that provide medicinal benefits in the human body. Because of these compounds, eating cacao improves metabolic health. Research has also suggested that including enough flavonoids support metabolic health, mainly for people with diabetes issues.
Cacao helps regulate the body digests carbohydrates and improves fat deposits in the body. Additionally, for diabetic patients, it aids in the signaling and secretion of insulin, which helps to keep sugar levels balanced. So feel free to add cacao to your regular diet to reap all the benefits from it.
3. Supports Heart Health
One of the important health benefits of including cacao powder in the diet is as a heart-healthy food. Cacao has also been scientifically proven to improve healthy blood vessels and blood flow which is crucial for maintaining heart health.
And for maintaining a healthy blood flow, it is vital to have a healthy circulatory system that maintains arteries and blood vessels. Thus, by improving the elasticity of your blood vessels, cacao provides healthy blood flow which in turn improves overall heart health.
4. Provides High Source Of Iron
Raw cacao beans are loaded with high levels of iron. Iron is a type of mineral the body uses to produce a protein for red blood cells known as hemoglobin. Hemoglobin improves overall well-being and carries oxygen throughout the body from the lungs.
The iron present in cacao is also used to help produce hormones and is considered the best source for people who don't consume animal products. Since ancient times, cacao has been used as medicine to treat anemia, a condition caused by a reduced number of healthy red blood cells termed iron deficiency. Thus, cacao can be the best substitute to boost iron in your body.
5. May Contain Cancer Protective Properties
Due to the high amount of flavanols present in cacao, they may contain cancer-protective properties. As compared to other foods rich in flavanols, cacao may significantly contribute to your overall health.
The component present in cacao provides antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and anticarcinogenic properties. Such health-promoting protects the body against oxidative stress and chronic inflammation, both of which are major risk factors for cancer. However, much research is required regarding this matter on the human body.
6. Eliminate Stress And Improves Mood
People have been consuming cacao products as a means to reduce stress levels and improve their mood for ages. They are a great source of four scientifically proven bliss chemicals; serotonin, tryptophan, tyrosine, and phenylethylamine which are associated with happiness and can alleviate depression.
Many people have claimed that cacao improves mood because of their taste. However, it's not just the taste that our body needs but the nutrients that are present in cacao. They are also rich in magnesium and potassium and a single serving of cacao powder contains 26% of magnesium and 15% of potassium that help to combat stress and provide a sense of calm.
7. Improves Sleep Quality
If you are struggling with your sleeping schedule then consider adding cacao power daily to your diet before sleeping. Cacao can be both energizing and calming, which gives you the right balance of adaptogenic herbs.
People suffering from insomniacs have higher nighttime blood pressure and consuming cacao will reduce blood pressure. Cacao also helps to combat the effect of anxiety due to its magnesium concentration and trace amount of tryptophan which contribute to longer sleep.
8. Lower Blood Pressure
We have discussed earlier that cacao contains flavonols that improve the health of your blood vessels. Blood pressure is influenced by the amount of pressure that the blood flowing through your veins puts on the walls of the arteries.
Adding cacao powder helps to improve the blood pressure count. By improving the health of your blood vessels it allows them to dilate more effectively and maintains a smooth blood flow throughout your body. This, in turn, helps to lower the risk of blood clots and maintain blood pressure.
9. Enhance Athletic Performance
Cacao contains natural compounds named theobromine. Theobromine has been linked with boosting endurance and increasing oxygen uptake which improves overall athletic performance. This magnesium-rich bean also supports the proper function of bones and muscles and potassium may help prevent muscle cramps.
Research has also shown that the polyphenols and flavonoids found in cacao can help mitigate inflammation and enhance recovery. Athletes consider this ideal for a pre-workout energy boost and like to consume it by adding on their drink with zero sugar and no additives. So, whatever sports you play you can start adding cacao and see the visible changes.
10. Slows Down Aging
Cacao is a rich source of polyphenols, that act as antioxidants in the body and flavonols. Diets rich in flavonols and other antioxidants can help protect the skin from UV rays and help slow the aging of the skin by preventing water loss from the skin and increasing the production of collagen.
Both water and collagen are extremely important components for maintaining skin tone and elasticity, a loss of elasticity can lead to skin that may look aged and dry. You can either add cacao to your regular diet or use it in your body and face as a protective cream.
Nutritional Details Of Cacao Powder
Cacao is the least processed and contains varieties of vitamins, minerals, and micronutrients that offer various benefits the overall well-being. Additionally, cacao powder is substantially low in sugar levels when compared to other chocolate products that are available in the market.
Here is the nutrient profile of cacao powder as per 100 grams:
- Calories: 365.1 kcal
- Protein: 21 grams
- Carbohydrates: 18 grams
- Fat: 23.24 grams
- Fiber: 33 grams
- Magnesium: 395 milligrams
- Theobromine: 2057 milligrams
- Zinc: 6.8 milligrams
- Calcium: 92 milligrams
- Iron: 2.7 milligrams
- Phosphorus: 455 milligrams
- Vitamin B2: 1100 micrograms
- Potassium: 900 milligrams
- Selenium: 14.3 micrograms
- Choline: 12 milligrams
How To Use Cacao Powder?
The healthiest way to incorporate cacao into your balanced diet is as unsweetened cacao powder. However, it may be difficult to find organic cacao or the organic may be excessively expensive so you can also eat dark chocolate that at least contains 72% cacao.
The higher the cacao content in chocolates the more antioxidants it will provide. So, be mindful while choosing the right chocolate to satisfy your cravings. You can also use unsweetened cacao powders to add flavor to a variety of recipes. Some easy ways to add cacao powder to your diet include:
- Adding cacao powder to your protein smoothies or various protein breakfasts.
- Stir them into plain Greek yogurt and enhance the taste by adding different types of fruit of your preference.
- You can also add them to homemade baked goods such as brownies, muffins, and varieties of cakes, and pies.
- Another way to incorporate cacao is in your overnight oats or your chia pudding.
- Lastly, you can combine cacao powder and milk and make hot chocolate for warm and cozy nights.
Potential Risk Of Cacao Powder
While there are various benefits to eating cacao, there might also be a risk to your health if you have too much cacao in your body. There are no proper rules regarding the inclusion of cacao in your balanced diet, so it is recommended to consume in moderate amounts to avoid the risk. A few potential risks of overconsuming cacao are:
- Allergies: Cacao is generally considered safe to consume but some people may be allergic to the ingredients. Symptoms of this food allergy can range from mild rashes or itching to more severe allergic reactions like difficulty breathing or anaphylaxis.
- Stimulant Effects: Cacao is rich in theobromine and contains caffeine as well, which are stimulants that may increase heart rate and blood pressure. Some people who are sensitive to these compounds may experience anxiety, sleeping disorders, and jitteriness when consumed in large amounts.
- Digestive Problems: A few people may also experience digestive issues after including cacao due to its high fiber content. This will eventually lead to abdominal pain, bloating, gas, and diarrhea.
- Interference With Medication: The component found in cacao can sometimes interact with certain types of medication and lead to adverse effects on health. So, if you are taking any medicine regularly, it is better to consult with your doctor before including cacao.
- Cause Risk During Pregnancy: If you're pregnant, and especially in your third trimester then you need to be careful about eating cacao. Various studies have shown that it could cause problems for you and your baby including constricting a major blood vessel that is essential for the baby's circulation.
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