Cocoa powder provides tons of benefits, especially if it is in it’s raw state, that is, no added sugar and preservatives.
Here’s a look at some of the health benefits of cocoa powder:
1. Stronger Immune System
Cocoa powder contains iron, zinc, and selenium. These minerals help your body function and give your immune system a boost.
2. Reduce High Blood Pressure by Improving Nitric Oxide Levels
Cocoa, both in its powdered form and in the form of dark chocolate, may be able to help lower blood pressure.
This effect was first noted in the cocoa-drinking island people of Central America, who had much lower blood pressure than their non-cocoa-drinking mainland relatives .
The flavanols in cocoa are thought to improve nitric oxide levels in the blood, which can enhance the function of your blood vessels and reduce blood pressure.
3. May Lower Your Risk of Heart Attack and Stroke
In addition to lowering blood pressure, it appears that cocoa has other properties that may reduce your risk of heart attack and stroke.
Flavanol-rich cocoa improves the level of nitric oxide in your blood, which relaxes and dilates your arteries and blood vessels and improves blood flow.
What’s more, cocoa has been found to reduce “bad” LDL cholesterol, have a blood thinning effect similar to aspirin, improve blood sugars and reduce inflammation.
4. Polyphenols Improve Blood Flow to Your Brain and Brain Function
Several studies have found that polyphenols, such as those in cocoa, may reduce your risk of neurodegenerative diseases by improving brain function and blood flow.
Flavanols can cross the blood-brain barrier and are involved in the biochemical pathways that produce neurons and important molecules for the function of your brain.
Additionally, flavanols influence the production of nitric oxide, which relaxes the muscles of your blood vessels, improving blood flow and blood supply to your brain.
5. Improves Mood and Symptoms of Depression by Various Means
In addition to cocoa’s positive impact on age-related mental degeneration, its effect on the brain may also improve mood and symptoms of depression
6. Flavanols May Improve Symptoms of Type 2 Diabetes
Test-tube studies indicate that cocoa flavanols can slow down carbohydrate digestion and absorption in the gut, improve insulin secretion, reduce inflammation and stimulate the uptake of sugar out of the blood into the muscle.
Some studies have shown that a higher intake of flavanols, including those from cocoa, can result in a lower risk of type 2 diabetes.
7. May Have Cancer-Protective Properties
Flavanols in fruits, vegetables and other foods have attracted a great deal of interest due to their cancer-protective properties, low toxicity and few adverse side effects.
Cocoa has the highest concentration of flavanols out of all foods per weight and can significantly contribute to their amount in your diet.