8 benefits of cocoa powder


If you love chocolate, you may be happy to know that cocoa powder is nutritious. On Cocoa Day, know the health benefits of cocoa powder.

Be it baking or a hot beverage, if you want to add chocolate flavour to it, go for cocoa powder. It is not just yummy, but also healthy. It is rich in protein, calcium, iron, magnesium, potassium and zinc, making it good for your health. On Cocoa Day, celebrated in the US on December 13, let’s find out the health benefits of cocoa powder.

What is cocoa powder?

Cocoa powder is a product that is derived from cocoa beans after they have been processed to remove most of the cocoa butter, says dietician Ekta Singhwal.

cocoa powder
Cocoa powder is good for your heart. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

What are the health benefits of cocoa powder?

Cocoa powder not only makes your coffee taste better, but also offers many health benefits.

1. Antioxidant agent

Cocoa powder contains flavonoids and polyphenols, which are antioxidants found in foods like chocolate, fruits and vegetables. They help to neutralise free radicals in the body, says Singhwal.

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2. Heart health

Having natural polyphenol-rich foods, including cocoa, has been linked to a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease, as per a 2017 research published in the Frontiers. Also, flavonoids in cocoa may contribute to cardiovascular health by improving blood flow, reducing blood pressure, and supporting healthy cholesterol levels.

3. Mood enhancement

Cocoa contains compounds that may stimulate the production of endorphins. This may help to improve your mood and reduce stress.

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4. Improved cognitive function

Flavanols in cocoa have been linked to enhanced cognitive function, says the expert. This means it may help you with learning and aid in improving your memory.

5. Mineral content

Cocoa is a good source of essential minerals like magnesium, iron and potassium. They all play vital roles in various bodily functions. They support a healthy immune system and aid in muscle function, among other things.

6. Anti-inflammatory properties

Some compounds in cocoa may have anti-inflammatory effects. So, it may aid in the prevention of chronic diseases, says the expert.

7. Blood sugar regulation

Cocoa may help to regulate blood sugar levels due to its flavonoid content. So, it offers potential benefits for those at risk of diabetes.

8. Skin health

Antioxidants in cocoa may contribute to skin health by protecting against oxidative stress. This helps to promote overall skin vitality.

How to add cocoa powder in diet?

It is winter, so you can make a cup of hot cocoa using unsweetened cocoa powder with warm milk. Other ways to add cocoa powder to your diet are:

  • Add a tablespoon of cocoa powder to your favourite smoothie or milk shake for delicious chocolate flavour.
  • Mix cocoa powder into your morning oatmeal for a delightful chocolate twist.
  • Use cocoa powder in recipes for cookies, cakes or brownies to enhance the chocolate flavour.
  • Begin your morning by stirring cocoa powder into yogurt or a bowl of porridge.

You can enjoy cocoa powder by adding a bit of chocolate. But make sure it is dark chocolate with a majority of it being unsweetened cocoa.

Chocolate milk
You can add cocoa powder to milk shake or smoothie. Image courtesy: Adobe Stock

What are the side effects of cocoa powder?

Consuming cocoa powder in moderation, such as a few times per week, is generally considered safe, says Singhwal. But be careful, as there may be some side effects like:

• Caffeine sensitivity
• Allergic reactions
• Potential interactions with medications
• Digestive discomfort, especially if you have cocoa in excess.

It’s best to consult with a doctor first if you have any pre-existing health condition or concerns. Also, be mindful of added sugars and overall dietary balance while consuming cocoa powder.