Health Benefits of Cacao – 7 Reasons Why You Need This Superfood
If you are wondering what makes cacao such a superfood, you should know that there are many health benefits. It can help with weight management, natural energy, and it fights premature aging. Plus, it supports healthy blood sugar and positive mood.
Difference Between Cacao And Cocoa
Both cacao and cocoa are derived from the same plant, but the differences between the two are significant. Cocoa is more often than not sweeter, while cacao is more bitter. However, both are accompanied by nutritional benefits. The two may be confused as they have similar names, but the differences are considerable.
Cacao is a tree that produces a seed. It is native to South America, though it is now grown in parts of Asia, Africa, and North America. Some sources say the word “cacao” is derived from Nahuatl, a language group in central Mexico.
Although the word “cacao” sounds a bit like ko-ko, it is pronounced kuh-kow. Other indigenous languages may use the same word.
While cocoa and cacao are not the same, they are very closely related. Cocoa is a chocolate liquor. Its ingredients are cacao beans and fatty cocoa butter. During processing, the husk is removed and the fat is separated.
A related product is cocoa powder, which is made by grinding the seeds into a fine powder. Typically, this is used as an ingredient in beverages, but can also be found in chocolate confections.
Supports Healthy Blood Sugar
Cacao has many health benefits and may be able to help you manage your blood sugar. It is a natural source of antioxidants, fiber, protein, and other nutrients. Moreover, it has anti-inflammatory properties.
The polyphenols in cacao may enhance insulin secretion, improve glucose tolerance, and stabilize blood sugar. These effects may help to regulate diabetes, delay its onset, and prevent the development of cardiovascular disease.
The effect of cocoa polyphenols on postprandial plasma glucose elevations was assessed in 48 healthy Japanese volunteers. Participants were divided into two groups. They received either the placebo or a dose of cacao polyphenol-rich chocolate (C) before the 50 g oral glucose tolerance test (OGTT).
Both groups showed reduced postprandial plasma glucose elevations. However, the peak plasma glucose concentration was lower in group C. This is likely due to the consumption of the cacao polyphenol-rich chocolate.
The effects of the polyphenols in cacao on early insulin and GLP-1 responses were also evaluated. Group C showed enhanced early insulin and GLP-1 responses.
In addition, there was evidence that the caffeine in cacao polyphenol-rich chocolate inhibits DPP-4 gene expression. Grape seed-derived procyanidins also exhibit this inhibition.
Supports Cardiovascular Health
Cacao is a great source of antioxidants and minerals. These compounds are not only good for your heart but for your brain as well.
As a natural anti-inflammatory, it helps to reduce the symptoms of a host of maladies from diabetes to heart attack. It also has a high fiber content, which keeps your blood sugar levels in check and offers a steady stream of energy.
The cacao name is not necessarily the best source of antioxidants, but the caffeine found in the bean, as well as the flavonoids and catechins in the cacao powder, have been shown to improve cardiovascular function. Plus, cacao has been shown to lower blood pressure and LDL cholesterol, and to help the body detoxify.
A cacao regimen can go a long way in your quest to live longer, healthier, and more vibrant. But it is important to keep in mind that there are many variables involved. Some people may be sensitive to certain ingredients, so it’s important to discuss your medical history with your doctor before you indulge in this decadent treat.
Supports Positive Mood
Whether you drink it for a sugar free treat or as a way to improve your health, cacao is a mood-boosting food. It’s packed with nutrients, antioxidants, and other chemicals that promote feelings of joy, happiness, and peace of mind.
There’s also a compound called PEA, which helps increase the amount of dopamine in the brain. Dopamine is the neurotransmitter that promotes feelings of excitement and pleasure. It also helps maintain attention and can help with pain.
Theobromine, another chemical in cacao, is known to widen blood vessels. This allows more oxygen to enter the body, which helps the heart beat faster.
Aside from improving heart function, cacao can also protect against heart disease and stroke. Cacao also has antioxidant properties that can slow the effects of aging.
Several studies have shown that cacao consumption can help alleviate anxiety and depression. However, these benefits are only short-term. To evaluate these claims, researchers performed a systematic review.
For the review, Fusar-Poli, Aguglia, and colleagues analyzed 874 published articles. They screened out those with a poor methodology, and they excluded articles that could not be easily categorized.
Supports Natural Energy
The benefits of ingesting the good stuff are well rounded out with no ill health consequences. Cacao aficionados are a hardy bunch and if you’re a devoted chocoholic, you are more or less in the good graces of the gods. For your information needs, here’s the lowdown on what’s in your box of chocolate. The following is a quick run down on the good stuff, the bad stuff, and the not so good stuff. Of course, a healthy and happpy chocolate chum can go a long time between visits! Fortunately, we can take a chocolate break in the middle of the day if we so choose.
Supports Weight Management
The cacao bean is a nutrient rich nut that helps promote weight management. Not only does it have a taste to match its reputation, but it also comes with a hefty list of health benefits. Cacao is an excellent source of antioxidants, fiber and other nutrients.
It is not surprising that chocolate – the elixir of life – is considered to be a superfood. Cacao has been shown to help boost the metabolic rate of the body and improve heart and blood circulation. Aside from the fact that it helps keep the cardiovascular system healthy, it also helps to protect the brain from damage.
Cacao contains flavonoids, which are known to boost the metabolism. These antioxidants also act as anti-inflammatory agents, helping to keep the digestive tract running smoothly. Plus, they reduce the risk of hemorrhoids, constipation and other bowel problems.
What’s more, cacao beans contain a whopping 16% of the daily recommended fiber intake. In addition, it has an impressive amount of protein. Besides, it’s a great source of calcium, iron and magnesium.
Cacao is a great source of antioxidants and flavonoids. These substances help to promote brain health and support memory. They improve blood flow to the brain, increase oxygen, promote glucose levels, and boost cellular signaling. They also stimulate the release of dopamine, a neurotransmitter that facilitates learning and pleasure.
Flavonoids in cacao cross the blood-brain barrier, increasing cerebral blood flow. The compounds also stimulate the production of protein synthesis and gene expression. This allows for more neuronal connections to be made. In addition, they improve memory and learning. For older people, high doses of flavanols can improve memory and list-learning task performance.
One of the most important nutrients in cacao is theobromine. This substance is a precursor to serotonin and dopamine. It also increases the brain’s vibration. Taking cocoa regularly can improve mood and relieve stress. Cocoa is a great choice to increase your daily intake of antioxidants. As a side note, be sure to choose organic cacao. There are many different types, from white chocolate to dark chocolate.
In addition to supporting memory, cocoa can also counter cognitive decline and promote mental health. It helps to protect the brain against age-related changes and can boost your mood and enhance your learning capabilities.
Fights Premature Aging
Cacao is a big deal when it comes to fighting premature aging. It is rich in antioxidants and flavonoids. In addition to preventing wrinkling, it helps maintain a smooth complexion. Other benefits include lower blood pressure and improved vascular health. As a bonus, cacao is a good source of antioxidants, magnesium, and manganese. Moreover, consuming it on a regular basis has a number of other advantages including reduced risk of diabetes and heart disease.
Another bonus is the fact that cacao is a natural anti-inflammatory. If you are dealing with a rosy complexion, consuming cacao on a regular basis might be just the thing to give you a youthful glow. A recent study at Seoul National University tested the effectiveness of cacao as a wrinkle preventer. Interestingly, they found that cocoa is also associated with the following benefits: improved vascular health, reduced systolic blood pressure, improved insulin sensitivity, and increased HDL cholesterol.