Cocao

Does chocolate have health benefits? 

We all know of chocolate

If there was one food in all of the history of the world, which is used for comfort, celebration, and dare I say, self-medication; it would be chocolate. Made from Cocao with the Latin name Theobroma cacao, chocolate is often made (in part) from the seeds dry roasted seeds of Cacao. Chocolate as we know it today, is not what the ancients have consumed. There is also a distinction between commercial chocolate, quality dark chocolate and raw cacao. After a long process homogenization, adding sugar (usually high amounts), a commercial final chocolate bar may have as little as 10% Cacao. 

Commercial chocolate cannot be considered completely healthy, as it contains high amounts of sugar 

In pop culture, many have claimed have chocolate, even dark chocolate, contains medicinal properties. This would be due, if not for the process mentioned above. True dark quality Cocao contains these properties and this blog will discuss these claims. 

Enter Cocoa

Many have walked into their local health food shop or pharmacy and have seen shop assistants boasting about the taste, purity and medicinal uses of the “super food” cocao. While some of these claims are true, this Blog will investigate the traditional and science behind a plant which was once hailed: “the food of the Gods”.

Cocao is the raw, unprocessed form of chocolate and tastes bitter, astringent and also contains medicinal properties 

Enhanced cognitive function 

Excluding the added sugar and fats in commercial chocolate, the tradition of cocao enhancing Psychological function appears to have a basis. Studies of quality dark chocolate suggest that cognitive function is increased creating ‘energetic arousal’ with key chemicals such as caffeine and theobromine playing a role. 

Cocao and dark chocolate appear to increase energy and increase cognitive function

Premenstrual syndrome (PMS)

Cocao and dark chocolate are incredibly high in Magnesium content, particularly useful before and during menstruation. There is also some basis for dark chocolate to increase serotonin levels, the “happy” chemical produced by body.

There appears a basis for quality dark chocolate’s use in premenstrual syndrome.  

Cardiovascular disease 

Cocao has many different chemicals that appear to have effects on the cardiovascular system. These include chemicals called flavanols, which are both well absorbed and bioactive. A meta-analysis (medical review) of 133 trials showed reduced systolic blood pressure. Another study found a 50% reduction in cardiovascular-related death and all cause mortality, suggesting an application in cardiovascular disease. There is also evidence of reduced hyperlipidemia (fats in blood) and improved vascular function. 

Cacao can reduce blood pressure and improve over all cardiovascular health, though professional medical supervision is recommended 

In conclusion, you can see that Cacao, quality dark chocolate, not only has a pleasing taste, but also many health benefits. Remember to consider a quality dark product or raw dark Cacao.

Food source

 As suggested, quality dark chocolate (at least 85%) and true Cocao are the best sources. These can be found in your local health food store and recipes found online.

Suggested recipe.

One such recipe I can recommend is a dark chocolate drink. Take one teaspoon of raw cacoa, some natural sweenter (if needed), add boiling water, stir well and add milk. 

By Jeremy Brown

Naturopath & educator

We all know of chocolate

The famous snack

If there was one food in all of the history of the world, which is used for comfort, celebration, and dare I say, self-medication; it would be chocolate. Made from Cocao with the Latin name Theobroma cacao, chocolate is often made (in part) from the seeds dry roasted seeds of Cacao. Chocolate as we know it today though, is not what the ancients have consumed. There is also a distinction between commercial chocolate, quality dark chocolate and raw cacao. After a long process homogenization, adding sugar (usually high amounts), a final chocolate bar may have as little as 10% Cacao.

Commercial milk chocolate cannot be considered healthy, as it usually contains high amounts of sugar

Enter Cocao

Many have walked into their local health food shop or pharmacy and have seen shop assistants boasting about the taste, purity and medicinal uses of the “super food” which was once hailed: “the food of the Gods”.

Cocao is the raw, unprocessed form of chocolate and tastes bitter, astringent and also contains medicinal properties

Enhanced cognitive function

Excluding the added sugar and fats in commercial chocolate, tradition speaks of cocao enhancing psychological function and appears to have a basis. Studies of quality dark chocolate suggest that cognitive function is increased creating ‘energetic arousal’ with key chemicals such as caffeine and theobromine playing a role.

Cocao and dark chocolate appear to increase energy and increase cognitive function 

Premenstrual syndrome (PMS)

Cocao and dark chocolate are incredibly high in magnesium and iron, particularly useful before and during menstruation. There is also some basis for dark chocolate to increase serotonin levels, the “happy” chemical produced by body.

There appears a basis for dark chocolate’s use in premenstrual syndrome   

Cardiovascular disease

Cocao has many different chemicals that appear to have effects on the cardiovascular system. These include chemicals called flavanols, which are both well absorbed and bioactive. A meta-analysis (medical review) of 133 trials showed reduced systolic blood pressure. Another study found a 50% reduction in cardiovascular-related death and all cause mortality, suggesting an application in cardiovascular disease. There is also evidence of reduced hyperlipidemia (fats in blood) and improved circulation.

Cacao can reduce blood pressure and improve over all cardiovascular health, though professional medical supervision is recommended 

In conclusion 

You can see that Cacao, quality dark chocolate (85%+), not only has a pleasing taste, but also many health benefits. Remember to consider a quality dark product or raw dark Cacao.

Food source           

As suggested, quality dark chocolate and true Cocao are the best sources. These can be found in your local health food store and recipes found online.

Suggested recipe 

One such recipe I can recommend is a dark chocolate drink. Take one teaspoon of raw cacoa, some natural sweetner (if needed), add boiling water and milk alternative and stir well.

As with many natural medicines, the applications are broad and far reaching. Speaking to a Naturopathic practitioner will maximise your health outcomes to help you reach your health goals sooner.

Click here to improve your health today 

Yours in health,

Jeremy Brown

| Naturopath | Educator | Writer | 

Supporting Evidence: 

Braun, L., & Cohen, M. (2010). Herbs & natural supplements. Sydney: Churchill Livingstone/Elsevier.

Hechtman, L. (2012). Clinical Naturopathic medicine. Sydney, Australia: Churchill Livingstone/Elsevier Australia.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s