9 Fabulous Reasons Why Cocoa Is Good For You.

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A Few Facts On Cocoa.

Cocoa originates near the Andes, Colombia Venezuela and Mexico. Thousands of years ago, the Olmec people, in Mexico, were inspired to eat cocoa beans by observing rats eating them with obvious pleasure.

The Mayans used to dry, grind and mix cocoa beans with water to create a chocolate drink. However, it would taste nothing like a hot chocolate does now!

The image shows 2 hot chocolates ready to be drunk. 9 fabulous reasons why cocoa is good for you.
Image from WordPress. No, the Mayans didn’t drink this!

After the Mayans, the Aztecs used to give the cocoa drink to victorious warriors after battle, used it during religious rituals and best still, as currency. Apparently, 100 beans could buy you a turkey hen!

The botanical name of cocoa (cacao) trees is ‘Theobroma Cacao’ which is Greek for ‘Food of the Gods’. The trees can live up to 100 years and can take about five years for them to produce their first seed pods.

The trees’ fruit grows directly from their trunks and they look like small melons. The pulp inside contains between 20 to 50 seeds or beans.

The image shows a large, yellow coffee pod being picked by a farmer. 9 fabulous reasons reasons why cocoa is good for you.
Image from WordPress

Christopher Columbus introduced cocoa to Europe in 1502 when he brought the beans to the Spanish King Ferdinand.

It takes about 400 beans to make a pound/ 0.4kg of chocolate.

The first chocolate bar was made in 1847 by J.S. Fry & Sons of Bristol, England.

The estimated world production of chocolate is 4.7 million tons.

9 Fabulous Reasons Why Cocoa is Good for You.

These health benefits are dependent on the type of chocolate you eat. There is a choccy health hierarchy, starting with cacao beans then, organic un-roasted cocoa powder and then, organic dark chocolate.

Adding cocoa powder to your diet may help:-

1. Improve your attention and memory and reduce your risk of developing neurological disorders. More research is needed but a two-week study of 34 old people showed that the blood flow to their brains increased by 8% after 1 week and up to 10% after 2 weeks after they were given cocoa. Cocoa contains ‘flavonoids’, natural substances found in plants which can help you to fight off everyday toxins.

2. Boost your immune system. Cocoa contains iron and zinc which, among other functions, help to boost your immune system.

3. Limit the negative side-effects of radiotherapy in people with cancer. This is due to the selenium content of cocoa.

4. Maintain healthy muscle and your nervous system functioning. Cocoa contains magnesium, an important mineral for regulating your muscle contractions, helping with nerve function and protecting your nerve cells.

5. Your wounds to heal.

6. Lower your risk of heart disease. Flavonols found in dark chocolate can lower your blood pressure, improve your blood flow and prevent cell damage. Also, the polyphenols (antioxidants) in dark chocolate can help to improve your cholesterol and blood sugar levels.

7. Reduce inflammation. This is down to a substance in cocoa, called ‘theobromine’ which reduces your inflammation and this action could protect you from diseases like heart disease, cancer and diabetes.

8. Improve your mood and symptoms of depression. In one study of pregnant women, it was found that their stress levels were reduced and their babies’ moods improved through the women’s frequent consumption of chocolate. Unfortunately, this is only one study.

9. You lose weight. Studies have found that cocoa can help to regulate your energy use and metabolism while increasing feelings of fullness.

So, to get the health benefits of cocoa aim to eat a few squares of at least 60 to 70% cocoa chocolate bar. Unfortunately, milk chocolate is high in calories and sugar.

Or if you really want to maximise cocoa’s health benefits, then why not try cacao powder or nibs? Cacao on its own actually tastes quite bitter but it can be added to porridge, smoothies, ice cream and you could bake with it.

Sometimes, I add the nibs to my porridge and I get the chocolate flavour and the health benefits without the bitterness.

Have you ever tried cacao powder/nibs? Let me know in the comments box below.

Rachel x

Sources: mobile-cuisine.com, justfunfacts.com, cocoaandheart.co.uk, webmd.com, healthline.com, mayoclinic.org, researchgate.net, hsph.harvard.edu, bbc.co.uk

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