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Cacao Health Benefits

Cacao (or cocoa) beans are technically not beans or legumes, but rather the seeds of the fruit of the Theobroma cacao tree. The pod shaped fruit is botanically classified as baccate-like (berry-like) and each pod produces approximately 35-50 seeds surrounded by a sweet pulp.

 

The pod and the pulp surrounding the cacao seed in this case constitute the fruit of cacao. Raw chocolate is high in cocoa butter, a fat removed during chocolate refining, then added back in varying proportions during manufacturing. 

 

The vast majority of people have only consumed the seed-derived portion of cacao in the form of cocoa powder or chocolate. 

 

Cacao offers many health benefits, as well as elevating mood and energy.Cacao is full of essential minerals and vitamins, including vitamin E, vitamin D, vitamin K, vitamin B, phosphorous, sodium, selenium, potassium, and modest amounts of iron. Cacao is also full of flavonoids, which are a type of phenol, and are a potent source of antioxidants.

 

The flavonoids help your body process nitric oxide, which is why hot cocoa can improve blood flow, help lower your blood pressure and improve heart health.

 

Although a regular bar of chocolate has strong antioxidant activity, the health benefits may be outweighed because of the saturated fats present , cocoa generally has much less fat per serving compared to the 8 grams of fat in a standard chocolate bar.

 

The flavonoids increase the blood flow and oxygen to the brain. Since dementia is caused by a reduced flow of blood to the brain, researchers think it could be treated with cocoa.

 

Chocolate consumption may have potential to cause mild lead poisoning, as some studies have shown that lead may bind to cocoa shells and contamination may occur during the manufacturing process.

 

In recent times, chocolate is associated with caries, obesity, high blood pressure, and diabetes.

 

Therefore, many physicians currently tend to warn patients about the potential health hazards of consuming large amount of chocolate-based nutrients.

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