We think of chocolate as a ‘naughty treat’ and often laden with refined sugars and fats. But cacao, the raw ingredient found in chocolate has a rich supply of health benefits. Cocoa or cacao is the dried and fully fermented fatty seed of the fruit of the cocoa tree. It has cardiovascular, anti-inflammatory, blood sugar balancing, mood improving and brain boosting benefits, making it well worth including in our diets.2
Maintains our Blood Sugar Balance
Cacao can improve feelings of satiety helping us feel fuller for longer and maintain our blood sugar balance. Cacao doesn’t contain sugar, which can send our blood sugar out of balance, and cacao has been reported to support insulin function.2
A Natural Mood Elevator
Cacao can reduce anxiety and improve mood. This is due to cacao’s powerful mix of polyphenols, anandamide and phenylethylamine, which increases our levels of ‘feel-good hormones’ like dopamine and serotonin.3 A 2019 study on 13,000 adults in the USA found that individuals who ate dark chocolate in the past 24 hours were 70% less likely to report depressive feelings.4 So you can enjoy Elly Momberg chocolate everyday (as if you needed an excuse)!
Lowers Blood Pressure and Risk of Cardiovascular Disease
Cacao helps lower blood pressure and reduces the risk of heart disease due to its rich content of antioxidants such as polyphenols and flavanols.5 Cacao has more antioxidants than green tea, blueberries or red wine!6
The high antioxidant and flavonoid content found in cacao can counteract or slow down cognitive decline during ageing, and help reduce the risk of dementia.7
Great Source of Magnesium
Cacao is rich in minerals such as magnesium, which helps in protein synthesis, muscle relaxation and energy production. It contains copper, which helps with brain development and cardiovascular health, and potassium, which may reduce the risk of hypertension.2
1. My vegan (2021) Cacao.
2. Katz D. L et al. (2011) Cocoa and Chocolate in Human Health and Disease. Antioxid Redox Signal, 15(10), pp2779–2811.
3. Irsfeld M et al. (2013) β-phenylethylamine, a small molecule with a large impact. Webmedcentral, 4(9), p4409.
4. Jackson. S. E et al. (2019) Is there a relationship between chocolate consumption and symptoms of depression? A cross-sectional survey of 13,626 US adults. Depression and Anxiety, 36(10), p987-995.
5. Ferri C et al. (2015) Cocoa, Blood Pressure, and Cardiovascular Health. Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, 63(45), pp9901-9909.
6. Superfoodly (2021) ORAC Values: Antioxidant Values of Foods & Beverages.
7. Pharmacol J. C. (2013) The neuroprotective effects of cocoa flavanol and its influence on cognitive performance. British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology, 75(3), pp716-727.
8. Stylecraze (2022) Cacao beans.