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Do you need to relax? Consume some Cocoa, The Food Of The Gods!

Written by GHBY Team on Fri, 11 November 2022

Key Highlights

  • Stress is quite common in recent times and has been linked to both psychological and physical health.
  • The anti-free radicals and antioxidant polyphenols in cocoa can help in combating stress.
  • Cocoa was first grown in prehistoric South America.
  • Studies show that cocoa consumption is helpful for cardiovascular disease and diabetes.
  • Drinking a cup of water or milk with a teaspoon of 100% pure cocoa or chocolate may help you cope with stress or anxiety and improve sleep.
  • Cocoa consumption is likely safe for the vast majority of people.
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Work, kids (or parents!), relationships, bills...life may be overwhelming at times! The pace and bustle of modern life might put us under undue stress. Stress is quite common in recent times and has been linked to both psychological and physical health.

Stress has been demonstrated to raise the risk of acute cardiovascular events in single episodes. Furthermore, stress disrupts circulatory activity, and such reactions might lead to stress-induced cardiovascular events.

Cocoa, which is high in anti-free radicals and antioxidant polyphenols, is your best buddy in combating the effects of stress.

Cortisol and Cocoa:

Following four weeks of high-flavanol chocolate intake, a recent study published in Antioxidants showed a 29% drop in cortisol, the hormone our brains release from our adrenal glands in reaction to stress.

When evaluating stress in clinical trials, researchers looked at cortisol levels. Cortisol levels that remain excessively high for an extended period of time (high stress over time) have been linked to weight gain, high blood pressure, sleep disturbance, mood impairment, decreased energy, and high blood sugar.

Cocoa: Food of the gods

Cocoa is also known as the "Food of the Gods". Cocoa was first grown in prehistoric South America. The Spanish conquerors introduced it to Europe during the Age of Exploration. Steam-powered machines enabled the mass production of cocoa powder in the 1850s. Every year, over 4.5 million tons of cocoa are consumed worldwide.

Cocoa powder is made from cocoa beans, which are derived from the Theobroma cacao L. plant. Chocolate is made primarily from cocoa beans, but it can also be ground into cocoa powder. Crushing cocoa beans and removing the fat or cocoa butter results in cocoa powder.

Cocoa is the cocoa tree's seed. The seed is high in fat and is used to make cocoa butter, which is subsequently used to make chocolate. Most people are familiar with cocoa as a ground powder used in the production of chocolate. Commercial cocoa is mainly derived from cocoa beans. Cocoa liquor, cocoa butter, cocoa powder, and chocolate are the four intermediate cocoa products.

Cocoa's popular image, mostly as chocolate, has also changed considerably and positively over the last several decades, as research has proved its link to a variety of health advantages. The purpose of this essay is to introduce you to its chemical makeup and functioning, particularly in relation to the potential health advantages of cocoa in stress management. Modern research, however, has revealed that it does contain important compounds that can benefit your health, especially when it comes to managing stress.

Unsweetened cocoa powder nutrition facts

Cocoa Powder Nutrition: According to the USDA's Food And Nutrition Database, the nutritional contents found in a 100 g (grams) portion of unsweetened cocoa powder are as follows:

Water 1 %Fiber 37gZinc 6.81mgPantothenic acid 0.25mg
Energy 196 KcalSugars 1.75Copper 3.79mgVitamin B-6 0.12mg
Protein 19.6gCalcium 128mgManganese 3.84mgFolate 32ug
Fat 13.7gIron 13.86 mgSelenium 14.3mgCholine 12ug
Unsaturated fatty acids 5gMagnesium 499mgThiamin 0.08mgVitamin E 0.1mg
Carbohydrate 57.9gPhosphorus 734mgRiboflavin 0.24mgVitamin K 2.5mg
Sodium 21mgPotassium 1524mgNiacin 2.19mg 

Cocoa powder contains polyphenol antioxidants such as catechin, epicatechin, flavonol, anthocyanin, and procyanidin, in addition to proteins, amino acids, fibers, vitamins, and minerals. Cocoa powder also contains considerable levels of theobromine and caffeine, both of which are stimulants and neuroprotectants. These essential nutrients provide a slew of wellness benefits for a healthy body and mind, while also keeping illnesses and infections at bay.

Cocoa and its phytochemicals are high in antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds. Studies show that cocoa consumption is helpful for cardiovascular disease and diabetes. Flavanol-rich cocoa boosts cerebral blood flow, implying that cocoa might be used to treat dementia. Cocoa contains procyanidins that prevent cancer by suppressing carcinogenesis, tumor development, and angiogenesis. Cocoa butter moisturizes the skin, enhances skin appearance and texture, and provides significant UV light defense.

Cocoa in stress reduction

Cocoa aids in stress reduction and the improvement of sleep-related cardiac biomarkers.

Many people have been getting ready for the night with a hot cup of cocoa or chocolate for eons, but did you know there is scientific discipline behind it?

Worry or anxiety about your day, the next day, or other things can make it difficult to fall or stay asleep. A recent study discovered that cocoa helps stressed-out mice sleep better, and another study discovered evidence that drinking cocoa helps people cope with anxiety. Drinking a cup of water or milk with a teaspoon of 100% pure cocoa or chocolate may help you cope with stress or anxiety and improve sleep. This could be because cocoa or chocolate reduces the body's physical signs of stress, which then feeds back to the brain by calming someone and assisting them in sleeping.

Benefits of cocoa: What science says

Health Benefits of cocoa

  • Studies demonstrate that psychological distress has a variety of physiological outcomes or correlates, including disturbed sleep. Because the psychology and biology of stress are so intertwined, being physically calm can help you feel mentally and emotionally calm, and vice versa.
  • Cocoa or chocolate can help your body physically cope with psychological distress if you are worried, anxious, or stressed. By lowering your neurobiological distress, cocoa can help you fall asleep more quickly (and more deeply) through the neurofeedback process, in which the body communicates its physiological body of tranquility to the brain.
  • Cocoa brings down certain types of physical distress that are related to sleep, such as blood pressure. Cocoa significantly reduced diastolic and systolic blood pressure according to a meta-analysis of five randomized controlled trials.
  • People suffering from insomnia tend to have higher overnight blood pressure, so cocoa may be useful for people with a history of disrupted sleep. Hectic, agitated, or fretting thoughts at bedtime might also raise nighttime blood pressure and create difficulties in falling or staying asleep. This is why drinking cocoa can be beneficial.
  • In young healthy adults, cocoa flavanols improve vascular responses to acute mental stress.
  • Mental stress has been demonstrated to cause cardiovascular events, most likely due to its deleterious influence on vascular function. Flavanols, plant-derived polyphenolic chemicals, enhance endothelial function in humans.
  • The effects of acute ingestion of cocoa flavanols on stress-induced alterations in vascular function were explored in research. In a randomized, controlled, double-blind, cross-over intervention research, 30 healthy males drank a cocoa flavanol beverage (high-flavanol: 150 mg vs. low-flavanol: 4 mg) 1.5 hours before an 8-minute mental stress test. Pre- and post-intervention forearm blood flow (FBF), blood pressure (BP), and cardiovascular activity were measured at rest and under stress. Before the intervention, endothelial function (brachial flow-mediated dilatation, FMD) and brachial blood pressure (BP) were evaluated, as well as 30 and 90 minutes thereafter.
  • FMD was reduced 30 minutes after stress, but high-flavanol cocoa reversed this reduction and remained considerably higher than low-flavanol cocoa after 90 minutes. At rest and under stress, high-flavanol cocoa boosted FBF. The cardiovascular and blood pressure responses to stress were identical in both circumstances. Flavanols are helpful at preventing endothelial dysfunction caused by mental stress and improving peripheral blood flow under stress. These findings imply that flavanol-rich dietary methods should be used to protect vascular health during stress.

How to use cocoa

  • To reap the greatest advantages, use pure cocoa powder (100% cocoa with no additions) in your nightly drink.
  • Avoid powders with added sugars, chemicals, or trans fats since they may be harmful to your health.
  • Consuming a bar of chocolate may not have the same impact as drinking pure cocoa-containing water or milk, since chocolate may have a less pure form of cocoa, a lower dose of cocoa per serving, and additional components that influence the absorbability or effects of the cocoa.

Cocoa on mood and depression symptoms

The effects of cocoa on the brain may also improve mood and symptoms of depression. Furthermore, it has a positive effect on age-related mental degeneration.

According to one study, increasing cocoa consumption during pregnancy is associated with reduced stress and better mood in newborns. Another study found that eating cocoa with a high polyphenol content boosted calm and happiness. Similarly, in a study of senior men, chocolate intake was linked to better overall health and psychological well-being.

Its mood-enhancing qualities are aided by the presence of flavonols and caffeine. Furthermore, it aids in the conversion of tryptophan to the natural mood stabilizer serotonin. You might also enjoy the sensory delight of eating cocoa. All of these things contribute to its mood-boosting properties.

Conclusion

Dark chocolate and other cocoa products have received widespread interest as dietary supplements to support cardiovascular health. However, the scientific proof that cocoa goods might help with stress is a relatively big revelation.

Consuming cocoa-containing goods in moderation is essential. Cocoa contains little sugar or fat on its own. Coco-containing chocolates are high in calories, and an excess of them can lead to weight gain and obesity. To reap the most benefits, choose products that contain 60-70% cocoa or more. Before buying chocolate for our loved ones or ourselves, it is always a good idea to check the cocoa content.

Cocoa consumption is likely safe for the vast majority of people. Caffeine and related compounds are found in cocoa. Caffeine-related adverse effects such as anxiousness, increased urination, insomnia, and a rapid pulse may occur if used in significant quantities.

Cocoa can induce adverse skin reactions, constipation, and migraine headaches. It can also induce digestive issues such as nausea, intestinal pain, stomach grumbling, and gas. Read more about nutrition here.

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GHBY Team

GHBY Team comprises content writers and content editors who specialise in health and lifestyle writing. Always on the lookout for new trends in the health and lifestyle space, Team GHBY follows an audience-first approach. This ensures they bring the latest in the health space to your fingertips, so you can stay ahead in your wellness game. 
 

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