Health benefits of cocoa

Saturday July 6 2019


By Beatrice Nakibuuka

Known for playing a role in the manufacturing of chocolate, the healing and medicinal benefits of cocoa cannot be underlooked. The health benefits of cocoa include relief from high blood pressure, cholesterol, obesity, constipation, diabetes, bronchial asthma, chronic fatigue syndrome, and various neurodegenerative diseases.

According to Fautsa Akech, a nutritionist at Healthy U, cocoa powder contains energy, protein, carbohydrates, water, magnesium, copper, riboflavin, niacin, folate, and vitamin B6, E, and K. It also contains zinc, iron, and sodium while providing the body with energy, and dietary fibers but no cholesterol.

Lowers blood pressure
The flavonoid-rich cocoa bean aids in lowering blood pressure and improving the elasticity of blood vessels. Taking cocoa powder shows positive changes in the systolic and diastolic blood pressure as a consequence of consuming cocoa-based products instead of black and green tea.
She says, “These changes are attributed to the presence of antioxidants in it that stimulates the production of nitric oxide, which helps keep blood vessels relaxed.”

Improves brain health
Cocoa contains antioxidants which aid in maintaining a healthy brain. These neuroprotective benefits have favorable effects on learning and memory functions. Consumption of cocoa-based products enhances the flow of blood to the brain.

Heart health
The powder in moderate amounts protect cells, strengthens the heart and helps in curing heart problems since it prevents the formation of fatal blood clots, which can lead to stroke or cardiac failure. The flavonoids in the cocoa possess anti-platelet aggregating effects and modulate primary hemostasis, which is the measure of time blood takes to clot.

Reduces chronic fatigue Cocoa powder has tension reducing effects because it releases neurotransmitters like serotonin in the brain which exert a calming effect in people who suffer chronic fatigue.


Skin care
Consumption of flavonol-rich cocoa helps in decreasing the effects of UV-induced erythema, and reducing skin roughness and scaling. “It also aids in enhancing skin elasticity, hydration, increasing the oxygen saturation of hemoglobin and stimulating the healthy flow of blood in the dermal (skin) tissues. This is the reason there are many cosmetic skin care products with a cocoa ingredient,” Akech says.

Treats constipation
Consumption of cocoa powder exerts therapeutic effects in treating chronic constipation and bowel function diseases. Frequent consumption of cocoa products results in faster colonic, rectal, and intestinal transit times, increases the frequency of bowel movements, and softens stool without causing gastrointestinal discomfort.