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Do you know there are real health benefits of cacao powder? Cacao (or cocoa) isn’t only related to the yummy and mouth-watering chocolate. Sure, you have your treats and candies, but cacao itself has so many health potentials and benefits.
Cacao originated from Central America, consumed by the Mayan civilization. The modern world had only known it since the 16th century after the Spanish conquerors brought it to Europe. When you crush the cacao beans and remove the butter (or the fat), then you get yourself the cacao powder.
If you are into the chocolate so much, there are some tips to consume it properly. Your favorite snack can turn out to be healthy. It doesn’t have to put you in health danger if you know how to benefit from it.
Health Benefits of Cacao Powder – The Natural Antioxidants
One of the reasons why cacao is good for your health is because of the polyphenols content. They are natural antioxidants generally found in tea, wine, veggies, and fruits. As antioxidants, the substance is effective to combat high blood pressure, bad cholesterol, and inflammation. Those who consume foods containing polyphenols experience improved blood sugar levels, better cholesterol, lower blood pressure, reduced inflammation, and better blood flow.
Besides polyphenols, cacao is also rich in flavanols, which a natural anti-inflammatory and antioxidant. You can imagine how potent the cacao is with both flavonols and polyphenols together. But keep in mind that the process of manufacturing chocolate often includes heating which can reduce the level of both substances significantly. Not to mention that true cacao is bitter. Chocolate manufacturers often treat it with alkaline to make the bitterness go away. It makes the chocolate taste sweeter, but the flavanols’ contents are reduced up to 60%.
If you want to enjoy the benefits of cacao powder, go with the unsweetened one. It would be even better if you choose products with less (manufacturing process). Want to have a safer consumption? Go with dark and rather bitter chocolate. It doesn’t contain as much sugar as other sweet items and it doesn’t undergo too long processing during the manufacture.
Other Healthy Contents of Cacao
Reduce High Blood Pressure
Thanks to the flavanols, cacao improves the nitric oxide level in the blood. It is responsible for reducing blood pressure and enhancing blood vessels function. Of course, don’t overdo it. A small piece of dark chocolate or an original cacao drink a day would be enough.
Lower Risk of Stroke and Heart Attack
The flavanols dilate and relax the arteries so blood flow is improved. Not to mention that cacao can reduce LDL cholesterol. LDL cholesterol is the bad one. The possibility of inflammation can be reduced by eating (or drinking) a proper portion of chocolate every day.
Better Brain Function
Polyphenols are also responsible for better blood flow to the brain – reducing the possibility of neurodegenerative issues. They affect blood flow, including the one to your brain. Thus, improving brain function. And then flavanols are able to cross the blood-brain barrier so they can create unique biochemical pathways, resulting in more productions of neurons and also other important brain molecules.
Cacao isn’t only related to fat or pimples, but it can be healthy too. It’s healthy for your body and also your mind. It’s important that you only choose dark and unsweetened cacao powder (or chocolate) with less processing to gain the true health benefits of cacao powder.