Cacao

Cocoa, also known as cacao (Theobroma cacao L.) contains very high levels of antioxidants, higher even than tea, fruit and vegetables [1, 2]. Its products (cocoa powder and dark chocolate) are also rich sources of antioxidants, mainly flavonoids (polyphenols) [3].

Benefits

  • It is rich in dietary fibre [7] and contains minerals like magnesium, iron, chromium, manganese, zinc and copper [8, 9]
  • It also contains feel good chemicals like anandamide and phenethylamine [8]
  • Due to its antioxidant content, it has anti-inflammatory properties
  • Regular intake:Reverses vascular dysfunction Reduces the risk of cardiovascular events in diabetic patients [2]Decreases aortic stiffness [5]Reduces the risk of coronary heart disease [1, 6] Reduces the tendency to thrombosis (clotting) [6]
  • Dark chocolate: Significantly improves coronary circulation in healthy adults [1]Decreases LDL cholesterol (the bad cholesterol)Lowers blood pressure [4, 5]

Products

It comes in the form of nibs, powder or butter.

  • The nibs are shelled cocoa beans
  • Pressing the nibs produces the butter, a major component in the manufacture of chocolate
  • The production of butter leaves a cake residue which is ground into chocolate powder

I use the nibs and/or the powder in a smoothie or chocolate shake but there are numerous free recipes on the internet. David Wolfe and Shazzie [8] have devoted a whole book to the subject.

References

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