8 Scientifically Backed Benefits of Cacao Powder
Cacao powder is the pure, raw form of chocolate. It is minimally processed and extracted from the fruits of the cacao trees. First used by the Maya civilization in Central America for 3000 years ago, this ingredient was transported to European continents during the 16th century by Spanish conquerors. Since then, it has been becoming increasingly popular for both culinary and health-promoting purposes.
Here are 8 cacao powder benefits that have been scientifically proven by modern studies.
- Loaded with polyphenols
Cacao powder is loaded with lots of polyphenols. This is a group of antioxidants naturally found in many foods, such as chocolate, tea, vegetables, wine, and fruits. They have been associated with various health benefits such as enhanced blood flow, reduced inflammation, improved blood sugar and cholesterol levels, and low blood pressure.
Indeed, cacao is among the richest sources of polyphenol. It is particularly high in flavanols, which contains powerful anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects. However, keep in mind that not all cacao-containing products have the same benefits because heating and processing would cause losses of those beneficial properties.
- Improve heart health
Consuming cacao powder on a regular basis is proven to improve the health of your heart and reduce your risk of stroke and heart attack. Flavanols found in this food can improve the levels of nitric oxide in the blood, which helps relax and dilate your blood vessels and arteries. As a result, they would improve your blood flow.
In addition, cacao powder has been found to lower “bad” LDL cholesterol, alleviate inflammation, enhance blood sugar, and offer a blood thinning effect like aspirin. The combination of these effects reduces the overall risk of stroke, heart failure, and heart attack.
- Improve mood and depression symptoms
Cacao powder might have some positive effects on your brain by improving mood and depression symptoms. These benefits might be attributed to many factors such as flavanols, caffeine content and sensory pleasure of consuming. In addition, this ingredient can be helpful in converting tryptophan to serotonin, a natural mood stabilizer in the body.
One study on stress levels and cacao consumption during pregnancy shown that consuming cacao powder or similar products would improve mood and reduce stress in babies. Also, many studies found that drinking polyphenol cacao would enhance contentment and calmness, thus leading to better well-being and health.
- Help with weight control
It might be paradoxical, but cacao consumption, even in the form of chocolates, might help you control weight effectively. This is because cacao can be effective in regulation your energy use, enhancing fullness and fat oxidation, as well as reducing inflammation and appetite.
A population study showed that those who consumed cacao properties more regularly had lower BMI (body mass index), despite they also ate more fat and calories. Also, adding this ingredient to your daily diet would help you lose weight more quickly. However, more research is still needed to find out precisely how much and which type of cacao powder is ideal.
- Improve brain function
Many studies have shown that polyphenols in cacao powder and chocolate might improve blood flow to your brain and brain function, thus reducing the risk of many neurodegenerative diseases. These antioxidants would cross the brain – blood and take part in the biochemical processes which produce neurons and essential molecules for your brain activities.
What’s more, flavanols affect the generation of nitric oxide, which can relax your blood vessel muscles and improve blood flow to the brain. A recent study indicated that daily consumption of cacao powder would enhance mental performance in those people with or without mental illnesses, such as Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s.
- Alleviate diabetes symptoms
Though overconsumption of cacao powder and chocolate is obviously unhealthy and harmful for controlling blood sugar, it might actually bring several anti-diabetic effects. Some test-tube studies found that flavanols in cocoa could slow down the absorption and digestion of carbs in your gut, relieve inflammation, improve the production of insulin, and boost sugar uptake into your muscles. As a result, it can reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes in many people.
- Cancer-protective properties
Flavanols in vegetables, fruits, and other foods contain a lot of cancer-protective properties with few side effects and low toxicity. Surprisingly, cacao powder comes with the highest concentration of these properties per weight, thus making a significant contribution to your daily diet. This is especially true for those people who are during the treatment for cancer.
As a form of antioxidant, cacao flavanols can protect your body cells against any damage caused by reactive molecules, prevent cancer cells from spreading, promote the death of cancer cells, reduce inflammation, and inhibit new cell growth. Some animal studies have shown positive results in reducing the risks of some types of cancer, such as colon, liver, leukemia, prostate, pancreatic, and breast.
- Benefit skin and teeth health
Immune-stimulating and antibacterial properties in cacao powder might also benefit the health of your skin and teeth. Many studies have found out that this ingredient can provide some protective effects against gum disease and dental cavities. Thus, regular consumption would lead to better effects on your overall oral health. The key is to avoid the addition of sugar in those foods and drinks made from cacao.
In addition, polyphenols in cacao powder can also provide considerable benefits for the skin. Indeed, long-term intake of cacao has been proven to help with skin blood circulation, sun protection, enhance skin hydration, and improve your surface texture.
Cacao powder has been a popular ingredient in the world for a long time. In addition to being a perfect ingredient in many recipes, it also provides us with many health benefits such as weight control, improved heart health, reduced inflammation, enhanced brain health, and healthy skin and teeth.
It is easy and nutritious to add cacao power to your daily diet. However, make sure to choose non-alkalized and high-quality products to maximize its benefits. Visit our store now to choose the right option for your diet and health.
Here at Food's Alive, we offer an organic Cacao Powder that comes from cacao beans grown on the island of the Dominican Republic. You can shop for this nutrient-dense powder here!