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10 Cocoa Benefits for Your Health and Wellness

Did you know that pure cocoa benefits your well-being? It packs antioxidants for a healthy heart and glowing skin!

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Rose gold measuring cups of cocoa beans, cacao nips, cocoa powder and cocoa pods on a white backgroundSEE D JAN/Shutterstock

Reduce Inflammation

Inflammation throughout our bodies can lead to chronic health problems and even premature aging. Fortunately, pure, unsweetened cocoa powder contains plant compounds called flavonoids. These compounds can lower inflammation throughout the body, while also helping to reduce blood pressure. Here’s how to start baking with cocoa powder.

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Bowl with cocoa powder and tasty chocolate on wooden backgroundPixel-Shot/Shutterstock

Manage Asthma

It sounds like a lesson straight out of Mary Poppins, but a spoonful of chocolate can keep your asthma under control. The compound theobromine in cocoa can help suppress your cough and open up your airways; that’s also why chocolate can help fight a cough.

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chocolate spa- and aroma therapy on wood backgrounddenio109/Shutterstock

Prevent Sun Damage

Forgot your sunscreen? No worries—you have cocoa! The polyphenols in pure cocoa protect your skin from harmful UV rays. You can score these protective benefits from both eating cocoa and using it directly on your skin.

Try mixing cocoa powder with a teaspoon of honey and a teaspoon of organic coconut oil for a quick face treatment before hitting the beach.

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Heart-shaped chocolate sprinkled with crushed almonds and dried strawberries.Jarun Permsup/Shutterstock

Prevent Heart Disease

Break out the cocoa powder for a healthy heart. The flavanols in pure cocoa can lower your risk for heart disease and stroke. These plant compounds work to help your arteries and blood vessels relax, improving blood flow and putting less stress on your heart.

Not sure if your cocoa powder is still good? You might be able to keep that cocoa beyond the expiration date.

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Two young female friends laugh and eat chocolate outdoors Vadim Martynenko/Shutterstock

Improve Mood

In the world’s least shocking research finding ever, scientists have determined that eating cocoa makes you happier. Compounds in cocoa increase the serotonin level in your brain, making you feel more positive and less stressed. Eating cocoa adds to feelings of calm and contentment, so next time you’re tempted to reach for dessert after a long day, go for it!

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Cocoa powder in a bowl close upkazmulka/Shutterstock

Prevent Cancer

The antioxidants in cocoa can protect your cells against damage and even slow down cancer growth. Studies have found that eating a diet rich in cocoa powder is linked to a lower chance of developing colon, breast, prostate and liver cancer. It may even lower your risk for leukemia, too.

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Dark chocolate pieces on wooden tableAfrica Studio/Shutterstock

Lower Risk of Diabetes

While eating chocolate candy every day will not help your diabetes risk, the compounds in cocoa can help regulate your blood sugar levels. The flavanols in cocoa also help your body break down carbohydrates for energy and to produce enough insulin. Try sprinkling pure cocoa powder over your Greek yogurt or oatmeal in the morning.

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Cosmetic mask made of cocoa powderkazmulka/Shutterstock

Reduce Wrinkles

In addition to protecting your skin from the sun, cocoa can keep it smooth and glowing, too! Applying cocoa to your skin can prevent wrinkles, as well as make the ones you have less noticeable.

For your anti-wrinkle cure, blend pure cocoa powder with one tablespoon of plain Greek yogurt and one teaspoon blended oats and apply to your face once per week.

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Young pretty girl eating chocolate.Vulp/Shutterstock

Strengthen Teeth

Freshen your breath with chocolate? It’s possible thanks to the antibacterial properties of cocoa. Eating cocoa can help reduce the amount of bacteria in your mouth, putting you at a lower risk for cavities and other gum problems. Try sprinkling pure cocoa powder over fresh apple slices for all the benefits without a sugar rush.

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Mother and daughter biting off chocolate at homeMartin Novak/Shutterstock

Help Memory

Can’t remember what you had for breakfast yesterday? Try adding some cocoa to your morning brew for a tasty treat that may improve your memory. A study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that older adults who consumed a drink containing high amounts of cocoa flavanols every day showed significantly improved memory and attention levels.

Carrie Madormo, RN
Now a freelance health and food writer, Carrie worked as a nurse for over a decade. When she isn't hunched over her laptop with a baby in hand, you will find her cooking her grandmother’s recipes, lacing up her running shoes or sipping coffee in the bathroom to hide from her three young children.