Cocoa powder comes from cacoa beans that grow in pods on the cacao tree. The beans are fermented, dried, roasted and cracked. When the fat, or cocoa butter, gets removed from the cacao beans then the leftover dried solids get ground into cocoa powder.
The cacao tree's botanical name is Theobroma Cacao. Cacao trees love the shade and are often grown beneath other trees such as mango, banana, papaya, or rubber trees. The cacao tree grows to be about 30 feet tall bearing white flowers and colorful fruit. Once pollinated, the flowers become ridged pods up to 14 inches long, filled with beans.The cacao pod has a hard shell, is shaped like a bloated cucumber, and is usually red, yellow, or orange. Each cacao pod holds roughly 40 to 50 cacao beans.
Cacao beans have been a prevalent part of Central American cultures, specifically the Mayan civilization, for hundreds of years. The Mayan civilization gave it the Latin name Cocoa which means “Food of the Gods.” The Mayans created a ritual beverage made from ground cocoa beans, vanilla beans and other spices. It was shared during betrothal and marriage ceremonies. It was also used as a form of currency between their own civilizations and those they traded with.
Eventually the Spanish discovered cocoa beans and began to covet them for trading. Initially, the Spaniards kept the secret of production to themselves, which gave them the upper hand in a monopoly on the chocolate market in Europe.
Today, cocoa is most famous for its role in chocolate production. However, modern research has revealed that it contains important compounds that can benefit your health.
Cocoa powder can be called a super food because it is rich in polyphenols. Polyphenols are naturally occurring antioxidants linked to numerous health benefits, such as:
- Lower your risk of heart attack and stroke
- Lower blood pressure
- Improve blood flow
- Reduce “bad” LDL cholesterol
- Improve blood sugars
- Improve mood and symptoms of depression
- Aid in weight control
The benefits of cocoa powder are not exclusive to being ingested or taken internally. It is also very healthy for your skin!
Here are five ways cocoa can improve the overall health of your skin:
1. Cocoa is a superfood.
The cocoa bean is full of over 300 vitamins, minerals, amino acids and phytonutrients. It is high in magnesium, zinc, iron, calcium, beta-carotene and omega 6 fatty acids. These vitamins and nutrients allow your body and skin to perform at peak levels. When applied topically, these elements can protect the skin against environmental stressors, feed the skin, and produce a healthy glow.
Externally, cocoa delivers complex nutrients for healthy skin. Visibly improving texture, tone and radiance. Antioxidants deeply nourish the skin, leaving your face healthy and rejuvenated.
3. Skin protection
Cocoa is rich in flavanols so it can provide protection against the elements and environmental stressors including protecting human skin from harmful UV effects.
4. Increases blood circulation for vibrant skin
Blood carries oxygen and nutrients throughout the body and helps carry away waste and free radicals. Poor blood circulation can lead to dry and unhealthy skin. Cocoa, which is high in flavanols, can increase overall oxygen content and blood flow in the body. Better blood flow and circulation means your skin will get the appropriate nourishment and will be able to maintain youthful skin longer.
5. Has a calming effect.
When applied externally, cacao is calming and restorative, resulting in resilient and radiant skin.
It's no wonder cocoa powder is known as being 'super'! It is awesome that cocoa powder can be so beneficial, both inside and out. Check out our other blogs here. It is fun learning about natural ingredients. We can truly benefit by gaining knowledge and understanding of what amazing things nature has to offer! Follow us on Pinterest, Instagram and Facebook.