Benefits of cocoa, properties and contraindications
All the incredible qualities of cocoa
Stimulant of the nervous system
If there is a food that it helps us to feel good every time we consume it that is cocoa without a doubt. Why? Basically because it contains a series of components that act as stimulants and euphoriants.
This quality translates into something very simple: every time we eat a portion of pure cocoa or chocolate we get a Pleasant sense of well-being (1) due to the presence of phenylethylamine, which acts in the brain, triggering a state of emotional well-being and euphoria.
Cocoa helps increase the production of endorphins (2), hormones that improve our mood (3). In addition, we must not forget that it stands out for being a tremendously energetic food, quality that translates into something very simple: it helps us to recover strength in situations of physical and mental fatigue, being useful to keep us more active.
Stimulant of the digestive system
In addition to its qualities as a stimulant of our nervous system and our emotions, Cocoa acts as an excellent digestive, besides becoming a wonderful stimulant of our digestive system.
Good against constipation
On the other hand, several studies have confirmed The benefits of cocoa as a natural relief against constipation (4), thanks precisely to that it becomes an ideal food to tone and stimulate the digestive system.
But its qualities do not end here, since a study carried out by the State University of Louisiana (in the United States), found that certain substances present in cocoa reach the colon, where they are fermented by microorganisms and good bacteria present in our bacterial flora.
Excellent for maintaining good cardiovascular health
Did you know Cocoa is very rich in antioxidants? (5). These natural compounds are able to prevent the negative action of free radicals in our body, helping to prevent the degeneration of our cells (responsible for the appearance of many diseases).
For this richness in antioxidants Cocoa is ideal for our cardiovascular system (6), preventing the onset of heart disease. Further, helps reduce cholesterol and triglycerides, while if rich in theobromine make it an ideal food to increase HDL cholesterol (7).
Good for skin and against cellulite
These same Benefits They have an important anti-cellulite, antioxidant and even softening activity, which are taken advantage of by the chocolaterapia, a therapy that as sure you know will consist in applying it to the skin through massages.
The most interesting thing besides everything we have tried so far, is its reducing capacity , ideal for people who want to take care of their line. Of course, this property would be only in the extract of pure cocoa itself.
Recent studies have estimated that approximately 4 cocoa capsules They would come to provide the same amount of polyphenols as 2 tablets of 250 g. of dark chocolate. Therefore, cocoa is ideal as fat burning, reducing, antioxidant and anti-cellulite (8).
Other interesting cocoa benefits
In addition to the qualities mentioned above, cocoa also provides other interesting properties. Which are?:
- Protective effect in case of diabetes, thanks to its wealth of polyphenols, which could help reduce the risk of diabetes (9). This was also verified by a review / meta-analysis carried out in 2016 (10).
What are the main contraindications of cocoa?
Although cocoa is usually a natural food with many health benefits, the truth is that, as with any other food or drink, this does not prevent you from submitting your own contraindications.
In this sense, on the one hand, we must bear in mind that cocoa contains traces of caffeine, so that its consumption is not advised in case of arterial hypertension or nervous states.
On the other hand, containing active ingredients with astringent qualities, especially due to the presence of tannins, its consumption is not recommended either in case of constipation or hemorrhoids.
Neither can we forget something fundamental: it is not the same to consume pure cocoa than to consume it as we find it today in most cases: in the form of chocolates and chocolates with a high content of added sugars, a high amount of fats, and without However, a very small percentage of cocoa.
What is cocoa?
Cocoa basically consists of the seed of the tree baptized with the name ofTheobroma cacao L., the popularly known cocoa tree, also named as cocoa. It is a tree that belongs to the family Malváceas or Malvaceae, whose main habitat is tropical America, originally from the Amazon basin to extend gradually to the south of modern Mexico.
It has a fruit that is actually a berry, with an elongated shape, which turns red or yellow purple. This fruit is used for the production of both cocoa powder (dry and dark) and fat or cocoa butter (edible fat of the bean).
The cocoa, fundamentally as food, exerts remarkable stimulating properties that comfort and revive our body. Not in vain, It is one of the best known foods that exist, especially because it is a product that produces one of the most consumed desserts par excellence: the chocolate.
And it is that we are facing a natural product extremely rich in polyphenols which in fact provides an interesting variety of health benefits and properties, capable of stimulating our body, comforting us and increasing our spirits.
A good example of its consumption is found in many of the products that, to this day, we can enjoy from cocoa. In this sense, the bitter cocoa It is obtained from the clean seeds of cocoa, roasted and crushed. It is at this time when they are usually added sugar and milk for the preparation of the known as milk chocolate.
- 5 healthy reasons to eat more chocolate
- Meier BP, Noll SW, Molokwu OJ. The sweet life: The effect of mindful chocolate on mood. Appetite 2017 Jan 1; 108: 21-27. doi: 10.1016 / j.appet.2016.09.018.
- Tuenter E, Foubert K, Pieters L. Mood Components in Cocoa and Chocolate: The Mood Pyramid. Planta Med. 2018 Aug; 84 (12-13): 839-844. doi: 10.1055 / a-0588-5534.
- Scholey A, Owen L. Effects of chocolate on cognitive function and mood: a systematic review. Nutr Rev. 2013 Oct; 71 (10): 665-81. doi: 10.1111 / nure.12065.
- Sarriá B, Martínez-López S, Fernández-Espinosa A, Gómez-Juaristi M, Goya L, Mateos R, Bravo L. Effects of regularly consuming dietary fiber soluble soluble cocoa products on bowel habits in healthy subjects: a free-living, two -stage, randomized, crossover, single-blind intervention. Nutr Metab (Lond). 2012 Apr 18; 9: 33. doi: 10.1186 / 1743-7075-9-33.
- Nabavi SF, Sureda A, Daglia M, Rezaei P, Nabavi SM. Anti-Oxidative Polyphenolic Compounds of Cocoa. Curr Pharm Biotechnol. 2015; 16 (10): 891-901. Review
- Vlachojannis J, Erne P, Zimmermann B, Chrubasik-Hausmann S. The Impact of Cocoa Flavanols on Cardiovascular Health. Phytother Res. 2016 Oct; 30 (10): 1641-1657. doi: 10.1002 / ptr.5665.
- Neufingerl N, Zebregs YE, Schuring EA, Trautwein EA. Effect of cocoa and theobromine on serum HDL-cholesterol concentrations: a randomized controlled trial. Am J Clin Nutr. 2013 Jun; 97 (6): 1201-9. doi: 10.3945 / ajcn.112.047373.
- Cals-Grierson MM. Modulation of activity of the adipocyte aquaglyceroporin channel by plant extracts. Int J Cosmet Sci. 2007 Feb; 29 (1): 7-14. doi: 10.1111 / j.1467-2494.2007.00351.x.
- Martin MA, Goya L, Ramos S. Protective effects of tea, red wine and cocoa in diabetes. Evidences from human studies. Food Chem Toxicol. 2017 Nov; 109 (Pt 1): 302-314. doi: 10.1016 / j.fct.2017.09.015.
- Lin X, Zhang I, Li A, Manson JE, Sesso HD, Wang L, Liu S. Cocoa Flavanol Intake and Biomarkers for Cardiometabolic Health: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of Randomized Controlled Trials. J Nutr. 2016 Nov; 146 (11): 2325-2333. Epub 2016 Sep 28. Review.