Chocolate is one of our most popular ingredients, but have you ever tried eating a cocoa bean? Taken in moderation, cocoa beans are very good for your health. Here’s why!
Raise your hand if you love chocolate! The definition of comfort food, two little squares of dark chocolate have the power not only to boost your mood, but also to promote the health of your heart. Of course chocolate is not found in nature, but it is derived from cocoa – more precisely from cocoa beans, the raw seeds of the cocoa tree and a precious source of minerals and vitamins.
The evergreen cocoa tree is originally from South America. It produces very distinctive fruits: big pods filled with up to 40 cocoa beans, looking like purple almonds. Cocoa butter and cocoa powder come from those seeds. But as part of a healthy-eating regime you can eat the beans themselves- raw or crispy, sliced or in powder, added to many different recipes. They are rich in antioxidants, can boost your energy and act as antidepressants. Here’s how!
Cocoa beans as antidepressants
We’ve already experienced this, even indirectly: it only takes a little dark chocolate to get you back in a good mood. It’s not just the power of suggestion: cocoa is rich in magnesium, precious for the health of your nervous system, with the ability to increase the body’s natural levels of endorphins and serotonin, hormones that stimulate a good mood.
Cocoa beans as energy boosters
Feeling tired and without energy? Just snack on some cocoa beans: they are rich in magnesium, calcium, iron, potassium and B vitamins, all useful to restore the right energy to your body. Moreover, the presence in cocoa of Theobromine – which works in a similar way to caffeine – guarantees an energy boost by stimulating the nervous system.
Cocoa beans as antioxidants
Cocoa beans are rich in polyphenols, such as flavonoids, catechins and epicatechins. These are strong antioxidants which help protect the health of your heart and prevent the formation of free radicals, thus preventing the cellular aging process. Whilst cellular ageing causes wrinkles, more significant is it’s role in cancer and heart attacks. Even better, eating raw cocoa stimulates your metabolism, thanks to the action of catechins: useful when you want to lose weight.
Where to buy cocoa beans
Cocoa beans are available at natural food stores, organic shops and online. You can find them raw or toasted, in the shape of a bar or as a powder, to be added to shakes and other recipes. How to eat cocoa beans? Munch them, as a mid-morning or mid-afternoon snack, or before you exercise. Add them as cocoa powder to your recipes for biscuits, cakes, and other sweet treats.
Contra-indications for cocao beans
Naturally, don’t overdo it. Even if cocoa beans are very good for your body, excessive consumption can induce tachycardia, anxiety and hypertension. Be particularly careful if you are prone to allergies in case cocoa could be a factor.