What you should know about cocoa health benefits

The benefits of cocoa have been making the news lately after it was discovered that cocoa is rich in catechins. Catechins are a type of natural antioxidant and phenol that are believed to protect against various medical conditions, including cancer and heart disease. But, before you run off to buy a chocolate bar that has been repacked and rebranded as healthy, here’s what you should know about cocoa health benefits.

Health benefits of cocoa

Studies have found exciting health benefits of cocoa. But, you should know that most of these studies supporting many cocoa health benefits are mostly preliminary studies funded by chocolate manufacturers, retailers and other chocolate interest groups. For the most part, the benefits of cocoa are inconclusive.

Among the exciting study findings and possible health benefits of cocoa are:

  • Cocoa reduces risks of cancer and heart disease
  • Chocolate does not trigger acne, migraines and weight gain
  • Cocoa boosts appetite and has a calming effect
  • Cocoa releases endorphins in the brain that act as pain relievers, and
  • Moderately consumption of chocolate can make you live up to a year longer

Considerations on cocoa health benefits

Generally, independent studies also support that pure cocoa can indeed have some health benefits, such as improve glucose metabolism and reduce blood pressure. However, the majority of people who consume cocoa do not eat pure cocoa. People mostly buy and eat processed cocoa products from supermarkets and other food stores.

Processed cocoa products often contain undesirable ingredients like milk fats, preservatives, added sugar and hydrogenated oils. In many cases, the actual content of cocoa in processed cocoa products is less than 20%, which makes the cocoa product of little nutritional value to the body.

When you eat processed foods that contain undesirable ingredients, you actually increase the risk of developing health complications like cardiovascular disease rather than reduce the risks of developing the complications.

The take away

Try not to get too carried away by all the hype surrounging cocoa health benefits and over indulge in cocoa – at least not until independent studies of cocoa health benefits are conclusive. Increasing your consumption of rebranded, processed cocoa products for “health reasons” is also, probably, not a good idea.

However, no one is discouraging you from enjoying your chocolate treat every once in a while. Eat moderate amounts of premium grade dark chocolate that only contains natural occurring cocoa butter to prevent many possible cocoa health complications.

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