Cocoa extract powder is packed with nutrients, including minerals such as iron, zinc, selenium, and magnesium.
Nutrients per Serving
A quarter cup of unsweetened cocoa powder contains:
Carbohydrates: 12 grams
Fiber: 7 grams
Protein: 4 grams
Fat: 3 grams
Things to Watch Out For
By itself, cocoa doesn’t contain much sugar or fat. Most commercial chocolate products, however, contain added sugars and fats. Go for products that contain 60-70% cocoa or higher to get the most benefits.
At first, you may think that 3 grams of carbs per tablespoon is not exactly keto-friendly. But you have to factor in the dietary fiber.
Cacoa powder contains just 1 gram of net carbs, making it a delicious and versatile low-carb favorite for keto followers. It won’t make you go over the permitted carb daily value, helping you stay in ketosis.
10 Health Benefits of Cocoa Powder
Cocoa powder is not only an incredibly rich and decadent addition to your low-calorie diet, but it also delivers incredible nutritional value.
#1. Can Help Prevent Cancer
Cancer is the second leading cause of death in the world[*].
When free radicals from your diet and environmental pollutants damage cells, they can cause dangerous mutations that can lead to cancer. However, scientists have discovered a substance that can your body help fight free radical damage, lower oxidative stress, and cancer risks: antioxidants[*].
These powerful plant compounds are found in dark-colored fruits and veggies like raspberries, blueberries, kale, and cocoa beans[*].
Cocoa boasts more antioxidants than many other antioxidant-rich foods per serving size — including green tea, black tea, and red wine[*][*][*].
Cocoa is specifically rich in polyphenols, flavonoids, and niacin, which experts say can help[*][*][*]:
Protect your cells from damage and bacteria
Stop cancer cells from growing
Prevent existing cancer cells from spreading
Encourage cancerous cells to die
One study has shown that cocoa can stop the growth and reproduction of prostate cancer cells, without affecting the growth and functioning of healthy cells[*].
#2. May Help Lower Your Risk of Heart Disease
On top of helping fight off free radical damage and warding off cancer, the polyphenols and flavanols in cocoa powder are also anti-inflammatory, which may help improve your heart health[*].
Flavonoids in cocoa may be able to specifically prevent blood clots and buildup from blocking blood flow in your vessels and arteries, preventing the development of cardiovascular disease[*].
And since cocoa is a mix of healthy monounsaturated fats (like oleic acid, the same fat in olive oil) and saturated fats (like coconut oil), all these fatty acids may also lead to better cardiovascular health[*].
#3. Promotes Lower Blood Pressure
Cocoa and cocoa powder may be able to lower blood pressure[*][*].
Studies have shown that people who consumed higher amounts of flavanol-rich cocoa or cocoa powder saw their blood pressure lower significantly in the short-term. This suggested that cocoa may be an effective natural treatment for hypertension[*].
Scientists in another study compared the effect of flavonoid-rich dark chocolate intake against a cocoa-free diet. The cocoa-eating group showed[*]:
Dilated blood vessels, which allows better blood flow
A significant reduction in oxidative stress
#4. Helps to Decrease Insulin Resistance
The cocoa flavanols found in dark chocolate may be able to help people with type 2 diabetes[*][*]:
That’s because cocoa polyphenols can help to slow the digestion and absorption of carbs and sugar. These compounds can also help break down glucose, promoting balanced blood sugar levels and improved insulin resistance[*][*][*].
In one study, scientists compared the effects of dark and white chocolate bars on glucose and insulin response in 15 healthy people. The data showed dark chocolate improved insulin sensitivity, while white didn’t[*].
#5. Can Prevent and Possibly Reverse Cognitive Decline
Experts believe cocoa flavanols can prevent or reduce many signs of age-related cognitive decline[*].
Polyphenols and cocoa flavonoids have been shown to improve brain function, increase blood flow to your brain, and prevent neurodegenerative diseases like dementia and Alzheimer’s as you age[*][*].
That may be because flavanols can actually cross the blood-brain barrier, so they get to work their magic directly on neuron production and brain cell functioning.
Scientists also demonstrated that regularly consuming cocoa flavanols might be effective for improving cognitive function in elderly adults who are already suffering from mild cognitive impairment[*].
These compounds may even be able to reverse the damage to neurons caused by Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases too[*][*].
#6. Can Promote Better Moods, Less Fatigue, and Lower Depression
It’s no coincidence that eating chocolate usually makes you feel happy. Even though you probably attributed those warm and fuzzy feels to the sugar found in chocolate, cocoa itself can enhance your mood for the better[*].
Cocoa and cocoa powder nutrition has been shown to[*][*]:
Promote feelings of contentment
Lower symptoms of depression
Provide aphrodisiac-like effects
When you’re suffering from mental exhaustion and chronic fatigue, cocoa powder may be able to help by releasing calming neurotransmitters like serotonin[*][*].
Several reviews show cocoa polyphenols can not only put you in a happier mood but even help alleviate mental stress and chronic fatigue syndrome[*][*].
There’s even research showing that women who frequently ate chocolate during their pregnancy had babies with lower stress levels and better moods[*].
#7. Can Deliver Healthy Fiber
Chances are you’re not getting enough fiber — especially if you’re not tracking what you’re eating.
This can become problematic because fiber not only helps you feel fuller, it’s also necessary for healthy bowel movements and proper digestive functioning.
As a matter of fact, many people may struggle with constipation when they first switch to a low-carb diet.
In a study where 44 healthy people consumed two servings of cocoa products per day, they reported[*]:
Increased daily bowel movements
The time to have a bowel movement decreased
The feeling of constipation disappeared
When you’re keto, you can’t load up on cocoa powder, but you can add it to other foods like chia pudding to bulk up your fiber intake.
#8. Can Help With Weight Loss
If losing weight is your main goal when following a keto diet, you may be able to use cocoa powder as part of your weight loss plan.
Cocoa has been shown to help[*][*]:
Lower obesity-related inflammation
Suppress your appetite
Feel fuller for longer
Prevent fat storage
Increase fat burning
In a particular study, participants on a low-carb diet were allowed to eat 1.5 ounces of chocolate made with 81% cocoa (i.e., very dark chocolate with little sugar or milk solids) every day. They lost weight quicker than those who weren’t allowed to eat chocolate[*].
#9. May Help Balance Electrolytes
It’s very easy for keto followers to neglect their electrolyte balance, especially when they start their keto journey.
When you don’t have enough sodium, magnesium, and potassium in your body, you’ll experience symptoms like the dreaded keto flu.
Cocoa may help you meet your magnesium requirement as one tablespoon contains 6% of your recommended daily intake[*].
#10. Can Promote Better Dental Health
Since cocoa contains antioxidants with antibacterial and immunity-enhancing effects, it may lead to better dental health and help ward off gingivitis. One review also showed that theobromine, which you find in cocoa, may protect your tooth enamel and strengthen your teeth[*][*].
But you’ll only score these benefits if you stick to unsweetened cocoa powder, instead of opting for your regular chocolate bar, which contains sugar and leads directly to cavities.
Is cocoa powder healthy?
Cocoa powder is rich in theobromine, which helps to reduce inflammation and can protect you from diseases such as heart disease, cancer, and diabetes.
Weight Loss and Control
Since cocoa is rich in phytonutrients but low in fat and sugar, the calories you get from cocoa powder will be packed with healthy chemicals.
How to Prepare Cocoa Powder
To turn cocoa beans into cocoa powder:
Roast the cocoa beans.
Remove the shells so just the cocoa nibs remain.
Mill the cocoa nibs into a non-alcoholic liquor.
Press the cocoa liquor to remove the cocoa butter.
Break down the leftover solid mass (called the cocoa press cake) to form cocoa powder.
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