The health benefits of cocoa include relief from high blood pressure, cholesterol, obesity, constipation, diabetes, bronchial asthma, cancer, chronic fatigue syndrome, and various neurodegenerative diseases. It is beneficial for quick wound healing, skin care and it helps to improve cardiovascular health and brain health. It also helps in treating copper deficiency. It possesses mood-enhancing properties and exerts protective effects against neurotoxicity.
Cocoa is rich in minerals such as iron, magnesium, calcium, phosphorous, copper and manganese. It is also a good source of selenium, potassium, and zinc while providing the body with carbohydrates, protein, and dietary fiber. In addition to this, the cholesterol content in it is almost negligible. It contains cocoa butter, which is a mixture of monounsaturated fats like oleic acid and saturated fats, namely stearic acid and palmitic acid.
Cocoa offers anti-inflammatory, anti-allergenic, anti-carcinogenic and antioxidant qualities and has demonstrated positive effects by imparting numerous health benefits.
Blood pressure: Flavonoid-rich cocoa aids in lowering blood pressure and improving the elasticity of blood vessels. Research studies conducted on this subject have shown positive changes in the systolic and diastolic blood pressure as a consequence of consuming cocoa-based products instead of black and green tea. These favorable changes are attributed to the presence of antioxidants in cocoa that stimulates the production of nitric oxide, which helps to keep blood vessels relaxed. Furthermore, this helps in maintaining a healthy circulatory system.
Brain Health: Scientists have suggested that flavanol-rich cocoa may extend its beneficial effects to maintaining a healthy brain. These neuroprotective benefits could also have favorable effects on learning and memory functions. The findings have advocated that the consumption of cocoa-based products enhances the flow of blood to the brain and they have provided evidence of the therapeutic potential for curing vascular disorders.
Blood Cholesterol: An investigative research study has shown that cocoa has hypoglycemic and hypocholesterolemic effects on both glucose and cholesterol levels, respectively. A diet containing it has also shown a reduction in triglycerides, LDL cholesterol, and glucose level. It has also demonstrated a noteworthy rise in the levels of healthy HDL cholesterol in the test subjects.
Diabetes: The consumption of cocoa has been shown to be effective in improving insulin resistance and glucose metabolism. This, in turn, aids in regulating sugar levels in the body. The proanthocyanidins derived from its help in inhibiting the cataract formation occasionally induced by diabetes. An investigative study has confirmed that it exerts protective antioxidant activity in the treatment of long-term diabetic complications such as diabetic nephrotoxicity. Nephrotoxicity plays a key role in diabetes mellitus and it is the major cause of severe renal disease. Free radicals aggravate these diabetic complications by promoting oxidative stress, leading to cell and tissue damage. The free radical scavenging activity of cocoa has shown therapeutic effects in treating and preventing this sort of cellular injury. The findings of another research study suggest that the consumption of flavonol-rich cocoa has shown therapeutic potential in improving the vascular function of diabetics on various medications.
Bronchial Asthma: Cocoa beans contain xanthine and theophylline, which aid in relaxing bronchial spasms and opening constricted bronchial tubes. This facilitates an easy flow of air and is valuable in curing various allergies, including asthma and shortness of breath. Its consumption, therefore, helps in providing relief from bronchial asthma.
Wound Healing: Cocoa extracts have been trusted for their therapeutic and wound-healing properties in the manufacturing of natural medicinal products. The extracts help in preventing the development of various kinds of infections in the body. Along with the appropriate medication, it has also been considered helpful in eradicating Helicobacter pylori bacteria from the body.
Obesity: A study has shown the potential benefits of cocoa in preventing high-fat-diet-induced obesity. Its intake helps in modulating lipid metabolism and reducing the synthesis and transport of fatty acids. It has also demonstrated an improvement in thermogenesis, the mechanism of heat production in white adipose tissues and the liver.
Cardiovascular Health: Studies have shown that cocoa exerts beneficial effects on cardiovascular health as well. It is rich in flavonoids namely, procyanidin, catechin, and epicatechin, which have antioxidant properties and help in protecting the cells from damage while strengthening the heart. It also aids in improving endothelial function and stimulating the beneficial HDL cholesterol. It helps in preventing the formation of fatal blood clots, which can lead to stroke or cardiac failure. Blood platelets play an important role in cardiovascular disorders. Flavonoids present in cocoa possess anti-platelet aggregating effects and modulate primary hemostasis, which is the measure of time blood takes to clot. All these health effects help in preventing the proliferation of various medical conditions like atherosclerosis and thrombosis, which are some of the prime causes of more serious cardiovascular diseases.