Cocoa powder comes from the cocoa bean and is used in a variety of desserts from ice cream, cakes, pies, and cookies as well as drinks and even cosmetics. Cocoa, while typically viewed as an indulgence or cure for a bad day, there is actually some scientific evidence that cocoa powder has been shown to help relieve depression.
Cocoa is rich in antioxidants known as polyphenols, which have been shown to improve the health of blood vessels, the heart, and protecting against neurodegenerative diseases. The delectable powder of the cocoa bean also helps improve energy levels because of its high content of magnesium and caffeine. Here are a few more details on the health benefits of cocoa powder.
- Mood Booster: Cocoa powder contains anandamide and phenethylamine, two chemicals that boost the mood by interacting with neurotransmitters in the brain, causing it to release endorphins that result in feelings of happiness and even love.
- Protects Your Heart: The polyphenols in cocoa protect the heart by improving the blood flow and helping rid the body of the LDL (bad) cholesterol; which is also linked atherosclerosis.
- Improves Health of the Skin: The skin becomes dull looking and begins to wrinkle due to the oxidation of cells within the body. The antioxidants found in cocoa help prevent further formation of oxidative stress, which helps return the natural glow to the skin. Also, cocoa is often added to skin care products in the form of cocoa butter for moisturizing.
- Boosts Metabolism: Cocoa has been shown to help improve metabolism by helping it break down fatty tissues. Also, with the flavonoids found in cocoa, it helps support a healthy digestive system, which helps rid the body of wastes, another boost factor for a healthy metabolism.
- Balances Hormone Levels: Due to the compounds found in cocoa that are responsible for interacting with the brain’s neurotransmitters, releasing dopamine, serotonin and endorphins, the hormone levels are rebalanced as well; helping to prevent mood swings.
History of Cocoa
Cocoa, derived from the cocoa bean, is also called cacao. It is originally from the Amazon Basin and was domesticated by the people of Ecuador, known as the Mayo-Chinchipe. It is rich with history, having been used by the Mayans in religious ceremonies and used as currency in North America prior to the Spanish conquest prior to the 15th century. During the 1700s, hydraulic grinders became popular which made grinding the cocoa bean into a powder much easier and its production increased significantly.