3 reasons you should consume raw cocoa, the food of Gods!
Cocoa: The beneficial «food of Gods»
This article will be a huge relief for all of you chocolate lovers (myself including)! The answer to the feelings of guilt that follow every time you help yourself with a piece of dark chocolate give the multiple health benefits that can be brought about by the moderate consumption of this “food of Gods”. It has been repeatedly shown that these benefits override the negative effects including acne or diabetes, for which chocolate is often accused. Global studies show that cocoa found in chocolate, and specifically its 300+ constituents, have properties associated with maintaining the health and well-being of the human body, since they act not only therapeutically but also preventatively in many chronic diseases and conditions such as headaches, migraines and dizziness. According to the researchers cocoa drastically reduces oxidative stress, arterial hypertension, atherosclerosis and ageing. The moderate consumption of this intoxicating pleasure acts as a precious antidote in diseases that affect several systems of the human body including the cardiovascular, respiratory, nervous, endocrine, lymphatic, immune and reproductive systems.
Blood pressure and cardiovascular diseases
Cocoa butter found in dark chocolate consists of monounsaturated fatty acids, which play a major role in reducing triglycerides and total and LDL cholesterols in the blood. It has also been shown that moderate consumption of dark chocolate for 15 days can reduce systolic blood pressure in both healthy and hypertensive individuals of all ages, while it may also enhance the prevention of cardiovascular events in people suffering from metabolic syndrome. Impressive is the fact that cocoa has similar effects to those of aspirin, as it reduces platelet aggregation that leads to blood clotting, therefore preventing the occurrence of cardiovascular disease. Finally, it has been shown that cocoa improves cognitive performance while at the same time increases cerebral blood flow, thereby acting therapeutically on cerebral diseases such as dementia and strokes.
Flavonols, procyanides, and catechins are some of the many antioxidants found in cocoa that have been shown to be responsible for its positive effect on inhibiting the growth of cancer cells. In particular, these substances fight against free radicals that pose a particular threat to the body, as they increase the chances of atherosclerosis, are associated with various cancers and lead to premature aging. It is worth mentioning that raw cocoa contains much more flavonoids than tea, wine and certain fruits such as berries. Also, flavonols contained in cocoa may help manage diabetes as they are found to reduce insulin resistance and improve blood glucose levels. You should prefer dark over milk chocolate, since milk reduces the intestinal absorption of flavonoids containing cocoa, and since the processing of cocoa, which is a major characteristic of milk chocolate, reduces the positive effect of its antioxidants. As a matter of fact, the antioxidant level or ORAC (oxygen radical absorption capacity) of cocoa is at the top of the common food list's ten top ORAC values.
Anxiety and stress
Theobromine and caffeine are nitrogen compounds that are found cocoa. Because of these substances cocoa stimulates our central nervous system, puts us in a state of vigilance and improves our mood. Stress levels are reduced after consuming dark chocolate, since cocoa boosts the production of serotonin, which is a neurotransmitter that soothes the muscles and helps the whole body to relax. Moreover, cocoa contains a plethora of minerals and trace elements such as potassium, phosphorus, iron, zinc and magnesium, all of which each add to the beneficial effects of cocoa.
Recommended daily intake
According to studies, about 40 grams of dark chocolate consisting of 70-85% pure cocoa offer 240 calories and form the recommended daily dose that brings all of the above benefits to the human body. The main reason why chocolate is often criticized is the high levels of sugar and saturated fatty acids contained in its recommended daily intake. Also, if a chocolate is highly processed, the beneficial effects of cocoa are significantly reduced. For overweight or obese people, and for those who have high total or LDL cholesterols, it is important to ensure a moderate consumption of chocolate because, although it is highly nutritious, it still contains many calories, and a possible overconsumption can lead to further increase in body weight and blood lipids. Overconsumption can also result in unwanted complications such as increased fat deposition in the body and atherosclerosis, which increase the chances of heart disease. People with diabetes are advised to be twice as careful, since chocolate has a high glycaemic index, which means that blood glucose increases sharply after its consumption. The complications of an uncontrolled diabetes are lots and dangerous, so regular blood glucose control and the calculation of carbohydrate intake from foods are equally necessary.
Take home message
Your healthy chocolate candy bar of choice should be no less than bitter-sweet chocolate without flavorings or fillings, and it should contain at least 70% cacao or cocoa. If it is raw chocolate, it is all the better. The higher the cacao percentage the better, because it's the cacao beans that contain the extremely high antioxidant health benefits. Moderate consumption of dark chocolate can occur fearlessly and without remorse if combined with enough exercise or reduced intake of other foods rich in sugar and saturated fat so that there is a balance between the calories you eat and those that you burn during the day. Our delicious vegan choco cupcakes made of raw cocoa powder and dark chocolate are so finger licking good! Try them now!