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Is Cocoa Powder Bad For You?
Cocoa— we all love it, whether we know it by that name or not. Billions of pounds of this delicious key ingredient in chocolate are used every year, and many people desire to taste this natural product in its purest, naturally-occurring form. But some have expressed concerns about how healthy doing this can be. Is there anything to these concerns? Let’s look at what nutritional science has to say.
The truth about cocoa powder
Some of the concern about cocoa powder stems from the fact that it is used to make chocolate— a food that is not exactly known for being healthy. And while cocoa powder is an ingredient in many sweet baked goods that will expand your waistline. We need to look at the product in isolation to determine if it is really something to be concerned about.
When we take the time to do this, the evidence is clear: natural cocoa powder is NOT bad for you. It’s quite the opposite.
Cocoa powder is derived from the cacao bean, which is so packed full of nutrients it is safe to consider it one of the healthiest beans on the planet. Cacao beans contain an abundance of antioxidants such as resveratrol, which helps protect against cardiovascular disease, as well as minerals like iron, zinc, potassium, calcium and more. Cacao also helps lower your levels of low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol, and reduce blood pressure.
So where does this perception that cocoa powder might be unhealthy come from? There are two explanations:
Cocoa powder is indeed used in most chocolate products, and most chocolate products are indeed, rather unhealthy. However, this is primarily due to the fact that so much SUGAR is added, and not the cocoa itself. If it is UNSWEETENED cocoa powder, it can be healthy. If it is sweetened— not so much.
There is a difference between cacao products and cocoa products. Cacao is also derived from the bean of the same name, and is less thoroughly processed than cocoa (the beans are dried or fermented instead of roasted). The result of these differing processes is that with cacao, more of the original nutrients remain intact. As such, cacao products, including cacao powder, generally have a superior nutritional profile than cocoa products. You can get the same nutrients from cocoa, just not as much.
We hope this has helped to clear up some nutritional misconceptions for you. Just remember, as long as you are not taking in tons of sugar with your cocoa product, you’ll be okay.