10 health benefits of cocoa

Cocoa is the seed of the cocoa fruit and is the main ingredient in chocolate. This seed is rich in flavonoids such as epicatechins and catechins mainly, in addition to being rich in antioxidants, therefore its consumption could provide various health benefits such as: improving mood, blood flow and regulating blood sugar.
Cocoa is not only attributed an antioxidant action, it is also anti-inflammatory and protective of the cardiovascular system. To obtain these and other benefits, the ideal is to consume 2 tablespoons of cocoa powder per day or 40 g of dark chocolate, which is equivalent to approximately 3 squares of the bar.

Benefits of its consumption

Regular consumption of cocoa could provide various health benefits, these include:
·         Improve mood,  fighting depression and anxiety because it is rich in potentially psychoactive substances such as caffeine, theobromine, tyramine (a precursor to tryptophan, which in turn is a precursor to serotonin) and phenylethylamine; 
·         Prevent thrombosis , because it helps improve blood flow by preventing the formation of blood clots, due to its flavonoid content; 
·         Fight high cholesterol  for being rich in antioxidants, also prevents atherosclerosis because it prevents the formation of atheroma plaques; 
·         Prevent anemia because it is rich in iron;
·         Reduce the risk of diabetes, because some studies indicate that it could slow carbohydrate digestion and absorption at the intestinal level, protect the cells that are responsible for producing insulin in the pancreas and improve insulin secretion. In addition to this, it could also decrease insulin resistance;
·         Prevent problems like dementia and Alzheimer's  because it improves blood circulation to the brain. In addition to this, it is rich in selenium, a mineral that helps improve cognition and memory;
·         Reduce blood pressure because it improves blood vessels by influencing the production of nitric oxide, which relaxes their muscles; 
·         Help regulate the intestine because it has flavonoids and catechins that reach the large intestine, which could increase the amount of bifidobacteria and lactobacillus, which are good for health, exerting a prebiotic effect; 
·         Help decrease inflammation, since being rich in antioxidants, reduces cell damage caused by free radicals and inflammation. Some studies have found that eating cocoa reduced the amount of C-reactive protein in the blood, an indicator of inflammation;
·         It could help control weight, since it could help decrease fat absorption and / or synthesis. In addition to this, eating it increases the feeling of satiety, because it regulates insulin, however, this benefit is associated with dark chocolate and not milk or white chocolate. 
It is important to remember that only dark chocolate with at least 70% cocoa is the one that provides these health benefits, since milk chocolate and white chocolate contain very little cocoa and a lot of sugar and fat. In the kitchen, cocoa can be added to cakes, pastries, cookies, or fruit salads.
In addition, cocoa powder should not be consumed together with calcium-rich products such as milk, cheese and yogurt, since it has oxalic acid, a substance that decreases the absorption of calcium in the intestine.

Nutritional information

The table below indicates the nutritional composition of 100 g of poop powder: 
Nutritional composition
Energy:  365.1 kcals
21 g
92 mg
18 g
2.7 mg
23.24 g
59 mg
33 g
455 mg
Vitamin B1
75 mcg
Vitamin B2
1100 mcg
395 mg
900 mg
12 mg
2057 mg
14.3 mcg
6.8 mg

How to eat the cocoa fruit

To consume the cocoa fruit, you must break the shells with a good knife, when it breaks you will see a whitish part covered by a very sweet viscous substance, and whose interior has the dark cocoa that is known worldwide. 
It is possible to consume only the white substance that surrounds the cocoa bean, but you can also chew everything, including what it contains inside, however, the dark part is very bitter and does not resemble the chocolate that we all know. 

How chocolate is made

In order for these seeds to be transformed into powder or chocolate, they must be collected from the tree, dried in the sun, roasted and crushed until the cocoa butter is extracted. This paste is mainly used to make milk chocolate and white chocolate, while pure cocoa is used in the manufacture of dark or medium bitter chocolate. 

Cocoa brownie with flaxseed 

·         2 cups of muscovado sugar;
·         1 cup of linseed flour;
·         4 eggs;
·         6 tablespoons margarine without salt;
·         1 1/4 cup cocoa powder (150 g);
·         3 tablespoons of whole wheat flour;
·         3 tablespoons of white wheat flour.
Preparation method
Melt the butter in a bain-marie, add the cocoa and stir until obtaining a homogeneous mixture. In another container, beat the egg whites until stiff, add the yolks and muscovado sugar, continue beating until the mixture becomes lighter. Incorporate cocoa, wheat and flaxseed in an enveloping way. 
Pre-heat the oven to 230 ºC. Place the mixture on the tray with vegetable paper, take to the oven for 20 minutes. The surface of the brownie should be dry on the outside and wet on the inside.

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