A favorite drink of all children and many adults, which can be enjoyed at any time of day. But it’s not just about taste, because it has been proven that cocoa powder is good for the human body. It acts on all systems and helps to improve overall health. Occasionally there are side effects, and products on this basis in some cases even bring harm. How to get the most out of the drink and avoid adverse effects, read in our review.
What the product is
Cocoa powder is derived from the fruit of the chocolate tree (Latin for Theobroma cacao). The beans are carefully roasted and then ground. The Mayas were the first to appreciate the unusual taste. Later Spanish conquerors brought cocoa beans to Europe and introduced them to the population of developed countries.
- This is interesting: What cocoa is made from and how
Many dieters and health enthusiasts are interested in the caloric content of cocoa. The drink, which is rich in fiber, magnesium, iron, manganese, proteins, “good” cholesterol, phosphorus and many other substances, is a valuable food product and has been shown to be beneficial to the human body in many ways.
Cocoa is often referred to as a cure-all, as even just one cup helps to fight problems ranging from overweight to high blood pressure.
To understand the health benefits and harms of cocoa, you can find out the composition. This will allow you to understand how many grams per day each person on a low-calorie diet is allowed to consume.
Caloric content of cocoa, coffee and tea
|Energy value||956 kcal (228.5 kcal)||8.4 kcal (2 kcal)||4.2 kcal (1 kcal)|
|Carbohydrates||31,9 г||0,3 г||0,2 г|
|Fats||17,5 г||0 г||0 г|
|Protein||24,2 г||0,2 г||0,1 г|
|Caffeine||230 mg||40 mg||11 mg|
Those who know the calorie charts will immediately notice that cocoa is more nutritious than coffee or tea when they look at these numbers. But if you do not add sugar and drink it pure (or with honey), the delicious drink will not ruin your figure. Cocoa is a high-calorie food, but it contains many vitamins and trace elements that help speed up the metabolism. In addition, it has a lot more caffeine, which is what your morning time with a cup is all about.
- Don’t miss: Caffeine content in cocoa
Useful properties and effects of cocoa
Scientists long ago found out that the benefits of cocoa for the elderly and for children may be different. But such a drink primarily has a restorative effect, so it is recommended to drink at any age.
The positive effects of cocoa on the human body:
- Reducing inflammation – this powder is rich in polyphenols and antioxidants that increase blood flow and help fight various inflammatory processes.
- Blood Pressure Control – Consuming hot chocolate and even plain chocolate bars (which have the most cocoa), lowers blood pressure and improves the function of all blood vessels.
- Strengthening the heart – such powder is an excellent source of nitric oxide, which reduces the likelihood of stroke and cardiovascular disease.
- Strengthening insulin secretion – the product is rich in flavanols, and this is the best means to regulate insulin production and normalize sugar levels in the body (this is why cocoa is safe for diabetics).
- Stimulation of brain activity – taking even small amounts of cocoa increases blood flow to the brain, and daily consumption has a positive effect on people suffering from Parkinson’s or Alzheimer’s disease.
- Mood enhancement – a cup of this drink or some chocolate contributes to the production of so-called happiness hormones in the body, which reduces the symptoms of depression and strengthens mental health.
- Protection against the sun – cocoa is added not only to confectionery products, but also in useful products for safe sunbathing (both synthetic and folk – various masks, lotions, creams, etc.).
- Asthma control – cocoa contains compounds with bronchodilator effect (theophylline and theobromine), which are useful for this disease. Due to the presence of caffeine there is also an anti-cough effect.
- Help with weight loss – cocoa powder and products based on it play an important role in the fight against excess weight. The benefits of cocoa with milk and bitter chocolate is to supply the body with energy, increase the breakdown of fat and reduce appetite.
- It improves the condition of the mouth – the drink has anti-enzymatic, immune-stimulating and antibacterial properties. And the absence of sugar will contribute to stronger teeth.
- Treatment of problematic skin – the consumption of cocoa has a positive effect on the skin, and chocolate masks improve its texture when applied. The powder helps to free pores of dirt, improve circulation and get rid of acne.
Harms and side effects
Undoubtedly, cocoa is useful, but only if a person will not abuse it (the maximum dose is 2 cups per day). Otherwise, the excess may lead to addiction (because of the euphoric effect of theobromine and the stimulating effect of caffeine). And sometimes it is necessary to abstain from such drinks altogether.
- Read also: Addiction to caffeine and its consequences
In pregnancy and lactation
When carrying and breastfeeding a child, the use of cocoa can be dangerous for both the fetus and the mother because of the high levels of caffeine. The placenta will not obstruct it, so the substance quickly enters the fetus’s bloodstream. Because of this, it can cause:
- delayed fetal development;
- premature delivery;
- pregnancy failure;
- miscarriage at any stage of pregnancy.
Is it safe for small children?
Any child will like the chocolate drink, but pediatricians recommend offering it only after 2 years (or better to postpone until 3 years). The reason for this also lies in the active ingredients it contains. In the case of too young children, drinking cocoa can cause:
- anxiety attacks;
- nervous tics;
- regular migraines;
- allergy symptoms.
Limitations for the elderly
The health benefits and harms of cocoa after the age of 50 are still being studied, but at this age, people develop problems that force them to take additional medications. Before buying, you should read the composition of the drug and pay attention to the concentration of theobromine or caffeine. Depending on its level, the amount of cocoa should be reduced.
An overdose leads to problems such as: