(Natural News) Have you ever suddenly felt better after drinking a nice, warm cup of cocoa? That good feeling isn’t all in your head, and it isn’t just because cocoa is delicious. Cocoa powder possesses profound healing qualities that surpass even those of renowned superfruits, such as acai berries, blueberries, cranberries, and pomegranates. It is the main ingredient of chocolates and its powerful healing properties make it a great superfood. Here are a few health benefits that you can reap when you start adding cocoa to your diet:
Cocoa powder is rich in antioxidants
Polyphenols are naturally occurring antioxidants that can be found in many food items, such as fruits, vegetables, tea, wine, and chocolates. Polyphenols and other antioxidants can have beneficial effects on your body, including reducing inflammation, lowering blood pressure levels, increasing blood flow, and improving your cholesterol, and blood sugar levels. It just so happens that cocoa is one of the richest natural sources of polyphenols. According to one research, the healing powers of cocoa can be described as the “antioxidant of antioxidants.” Cocoa powder even contains flavonols, which possess potent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. All these antioxidants can help neutralize harmful free radicals and protect your body from oxidative stress and cell damage caused by free radicals. If you want to gain the full benefits of antioxidants, be sure to take non-alkalinized cocoa powder or dark chocolate that contains over 70 percent pure cocoa.
Cocoa powder can promote heart health
The flavonols in cocoa powder can promote healthy heart function by improving the levels of nitric oxide in your blood. These increased levels of nitric oxide can then lower your risk of heart attack, heart failure, and stroke in a number of ways. First of all, they can relax and dilate your blood vessels and arteries to reduce blood pressure and improve circulation. Second of all, they can lower your levels of “bad” LDL cholesterol and blood sugar. Two Swedish studies suggest that regularly eating small quantities of cocoa-rich dark chocolate may provide some protective benefits for your heart. However, it is still important to eat things in moderation as the studies also suggest that eating over 30 grams of chocolate a day no longer provided the same cardioprotective effects. (Related: Top health benefits of cocoa.)
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Cocoa powder may help alleviate symptoms of Type 2 diabetes
Eating chocolate to combat the symptoms of diabetes might sound a little strange, but it is possible. However, there’s a lot more you have to take into consideration. Firstly, you’ll want to eat only flavonol-rich dark chocolate that contains as little added milk or sugar as possible. Secondly, you’ll want to eat chocolate only in moderate amounts. While cocoa does possess anti-diabetic properties, it does not mean that eating more chocolate will provide even more anti-diabetic properties. To a certain extent, the intake of cocoa can improve glucose metabolism and insulin sensitivity.
Cocoa powder may support healthy brain function
According to several studies, having plenty of polyphenols in your body may improve your brain function and blood circulation to your brain, which also subsequently lowers your risk of neurodegenerative diseases. Additionally, flavonols can support the production of neurons in your brain. These antioxidants could potentially play a role in the prevention of age-related degeneration, such as Alzheimer’s disease.
Cocoa powder may provide cancer-protective effects
Since flavonols possess cancer-protective properties and cocoa is loaded with flavonols, eating cocoa might decrease your risk of certain cancers. In some test-tube studies, the components of cocoa were found to have antioxidant effects to protect cells from damage. They were also found to be capable of inducing cancer cell death and helping prevent the spread of cancer cells.