Cocoa beans are the seeds of the Theobroma cacao plant, which are made into cocoa powder, cocoa butter, and more. The beans are grown in hot climates, but they are used extensively all around the world. To make chocolate, cocoa butter (the vegetable fat from the cocoa bean) is mixed with cocoa powder, sugar, and milk ingredients.
Dark chocolate is considered more potent in health benefits due to a higher cocoa to sugar ratio. This is because raw cocoa powder is where the nutritional benefits from chocolate originate! It is a great addition to any baked good, but interestingly can also be added into savory dishes like chili! Raw cocoa powder has no added sugar, where as similar-looking products such as hot chocolate powder contain added sugar. Try using cocoa powder with a small amount of sugar, maple syrup, or honey to make your hot chocolate or mocha drink. This way you can get that delicious chocolate flavor with controlled amounts of added sugar, customizing your sweetness level, rather than relying on very sweet commercially prepared powdered hot chocolate as your only option.
- Is a source of fibre which is crucial to digestive health and can help promote the feeling of satiety – feeling full and satisfied.
- Provides dietary flavonoids, such as polyphenols. Polyphenols are plant compounds with antioxidant properties. There has been lots of research done to investigate the benefits of polyphenol-rich cocoa on inflammation and diseases such as heart disease or diabetes.
- Contains magnesium. Magnesium is used to build bones, make proteins, and support nerve and muscle function.
- A good source of copper. This element is essential for keeping our hair and skin healthy as well as repairing connective tissues in our cardiovascular system. Copper also is important in the formation of red blood cells and absorption of iron.
- A source of iron. Iron is needed to make hemoglobin, the part of the red blood cell that delivers oxygen to tissues in the body. This nutrient also supports proper growth, metabolism, and hormone production to name a few key roles!
Nutritional Value of 1 Tbsp. (15 ml) Unsweetened Cocoa Powder
- 12 calories
- 3 g carbohydrate
- 2 g fibre
- 1 g protein
- 1 g fat
- ~20% daily recommended intake of copper
- ~9% daily recommended intake of magnesium
Nutritional Value of 1 oz. (30g) 70-85% Dark Chocolate
- 180 calories
- 14 g carbohydrate
- 3 g fibre
- 2 g protein
- 13 g fat
- ~26% daily recommended intake of iron
- ~23% daily recommended intake of magnesium
Did You Know
White chocolate does not actually contain any cocoa powder! Although the extracted vegetable fat, cocoa butter, may be present in white chocolate—it does not contain the health benefits of cocoa powder that is used to make milk and dark chocolate varieties.