- Cocoa is the term used to refer to the heated form of cacao that you probably familiar with.
- Though cocoa may seem inferior to raw cacao, it’s actually very good for you (and less expensive) if you choose a variety without added sugars and milk fats or oils.
- Cocoa powder is produced similarly to cacao except cocoa undergoes a higher temperature of heat during processing. Surprisingly, it still retains a large amount of antioxidants in the process and is still excellent for your heart, skin, blood pressure, and even your stress levels.
- If you buy cocoa powder, be sure you buy plain cocoa powder, not cocoa mixes which often contain sugar. Look for either regular cocoa powder or Dutch-processed (a.k.a. dark) cocoa powder.
- Dutch-processed cocoa powder (dark cocoa) is cocoa powder that has been processed with an alkalized solution, making it less acidic and much richer in taste. Regular cocoa powder retains a more acidic nature and bitter taste, and is used in baking recipes with baking soda where Dutch-processed cocoa powder is not since it has already been alkalized.
- Cocoa powder is a rich source of fibre, has little fat, and has a rich source of protein in it as well.
Benefits of Unsweetened Cocoa Powder
Dark chocolate may reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease, according to information from New York University’s Langone Medical Center. Cocoa powder has even more of the substances responsible for chocolate’s health benefits, and unsweetened cocoa has the advantage of being low in calories. It also contains essential minerals that support your heart, bones and immune system.
Just 1 tablespoon of unsweetened cocoa powder contains 3 to 9 percent of the recommended daily intake of iron, manganese, magnesium and zinc. In addition to carrying oxygen, iron helps make red blood cells and is essential for your immune system. Manganese is a component of enzymes that form cartilage and bones, metabolize nutrients and function as antioxidants inside every cell in your body. Magnesium helps produce energy and maintain a normal heart rhythm. Zinc is vital for the production and development of new cells, including immune system cells. Without enough zinc, the number of bacteria-fighting cells goes down and you become more susceptible to illness.
Flavonoids are the plant-based substances responsible for many of cocoa’s health benefits. There are many different types of flavonoids, but cocoa is a good source of two: epicatechin and catechin. Natural unsweetened cocoa powder has 196 milligrams of epicatechin in every 100 grams of powder, compared with unsweetened chocolate squares which have 142 milligrams and dark chocolate candy with 84 milligrams. Sweetened cocoa mix and milk chocolate have even fewer flavonoids. The flavonoids in cocoa function as antioxidants that help prevent systemic inflammation. Epicatechin relaxes the muscles in blood vessels, which improves blood flow and helps lower blood pressure, according to research published in the March 2012 issue of the “American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.”
Differences between natural and Dutch cocoa powder
The fine cocoa powder that is left after undergoing the processing method above is known as natural cocoa powder. In some cases, the powder is alkalized, which is an additional process used to raise the pH levels of the powder to improve its colour, taste and functionality. The alkalized powder is sold as Dutch processed or Dutch cocoa powder.
The differences between natural and Dutch processed powders include taste as well as functionality. Natural cocoa powder is most commonly used in cakes, cookies and brownies because it gives baked goods a deep, rich chocolate taste. Natural cocoa powder is an acid, and when used in recipes with baking soda it will create a leavening action that causes the batter to rise in the oven. The Dutch processed powders are a neutral substance and will not react with baking soda; therefore it must be used in recipes that call for baking powder or other acidic ingredients in order to produce desirable baked goods. Dutch powders will give your baked goods a subtle chocolate flavour.
To make sure we keep these straight, keep in mind that:
- Natural process cocoa has no added alkali. It has an intense bittersweet flavor with high natural acidity and full fruity flavor.
- Alkalized cocoa (also called Dutch process cocoa) is treated with an alkali, which helps neutralize cocoa’s natural bitterness and acidity. The alkalization process produces a powder that is typically darker and redder than naturally processed cocoa. Don’t assume, however that darker color implies deeper flavor. Alkalized cocoa is typically milder in flavor than naturally processed cocoa.
- Super-alkalized cocoa (also called black or black onyx cocoa) is alkalized to the extreme, producing an almost black cocoa powder. It contains less fat than other cocoa powders, and this lack must be compensated for in any recipe in which it is used.
HEALTH AND NUTRITION:
1) Cocoa (also known as cacao) contains a variety of healthful compounds known as flavonoids that have been found to have a protective effect on blood pressure and cardiovascular health.
2) There are three ways to get the most health benefits from cocoa: eating raw cacao nibs (i.e. adding them to trail mix or oatmeal), adding unsweetened non-Dutch-treated cocoa powder to a recipe (such as a smoothie) or consuming chocolate bars that contain at least 85% cocoa.
3) “Dutch-treated” or “alkali-treated” chocolate produces a more mild-tasting chocolate, but also decreases flavonoid content by approximately 75 percent.
4) Certain components in dairy limit the absorption of antioxidants from cocoa. This is why bars with higher cocoa contents (and, thereby, lower milk percentages) yield more health benefits. Alternatively, you can also try vegan chocolate bars, like Endangered Species.
5) Two tablespoons of cocoa powder provide 4 grams of fibre. A perfect way to add extra nutrition and flavor to a banana and almond butter smoothie!
6) Stearic acid — the saturated fat predominant in chocolate – is unique in that a good chunk of it is converted by the body into a heart-healthy monounsaturated fat known as oleic acid, the same one found in large quantities in olive oil!
7) The lower the cocoa content of a chocolate bar, the higher its sugar content.
8) Cocoa releases many neurotransmitters, including phenylethylamine, which has been shown to improve mood and alertness. Best part? No subsequent crash.
9) Cocoa is an excellent source of catechins — compounds also found in green tea and red wine that help reduce atherosclerosis risk.
Enjoy the benefits of cocoa by adding it to your daily diet. Reap the goodness of this naturally active chocolate powder.
Health Benefits of Cocoa
Cocoa offers anti-inflammatory, anti-allergenic, anti-carcinogenic and antioxidant qualities and has demonstrated positive effects by imparting numerous health benefits.
Blood pressure: Flavonoid-rich cocoa aids in lowering blood pressure and improving the elasticity of blood vessels. Research studies conducted on this subject have shown positive changes in the systolic and diastolic blood pressure as a consequence of consuming cocoa-based products instead of black and green tea. These favorable changes are attributed to the presence of antioxidants in cocoa that stimulates the production of nitric oxide, which helps to keep blood vessels relaxed. Furthermore, this helps in maintaining a healthy circulatory system.
Antioxidant Capacity: A comparative research study has made it evident that cocoa exhibits higher antioxidant activity than against black tea, green tea and red wine. Antioxidants helps to neutralize the oxygen-based free radicals that are present in the body. In addition to this, cocoa is abundant in phenolic phytochemicals and possesses a high amount of flavonoids as well.
Brain Health: Scientists have suggested that flavonol-rich cocoa may extend its beneficial effects to maintaining a healthy brain. These neuroprotective benefits could also have favorable effects on learning and memory functions. The findings have advocated that the consumption of cocoa-based products enhances the flow of blood to the brain and they have provided evidence of the therapeutic potential for curing vascular disorders.
Go Natural, Be Healthy and Look Younger!
What our customers say…
Great product from Nutri Superfoods. I use Organic Cocoa for all my baking so this product is just perfect for the best vegan cupcakes. Will definitely buy again – super service and would highly recommend…!
Lovely cocoa for drinking, very smooth and concentrated, so you don’t need to use a lot! A heaping teaspoon and a bit made a couple of mugs of cocoa and with a teaspoon of raw honey added in, it tastes sublime!