Move over, kale and blueberries—there's a new superfood in town, and its name is cocoa.
That's right, the main ingredient in your favourite 7 Summits Snacks bars is actually good for you. We’ve been hearing the rumours that dark chocolate is good for us and in fact, cocoa - the key ingredient in chocolate, has been hailed as a superfood thanks to its high antioxidant content and potential health benefits.
But what exactly makes cocoa a superfood? Let's take a closer look.
The antioxidant power of cocoa:
Raw cocoa beans are packed with nutrients that can have a positive impact on your health. But if you’re more a fan of the evolutionary advance of fire, don’t despair! Processed dark chocolate still contains antioxidants and polyphenols beneficial to your health. In fact, much of the supporting evidence studied by researchers has been conducted with processed dark chocolate bars- not raw cacao!
Processed cocoa refers to the actions of roasting and conching chocolate mass (ground beans).
Roasting brings out those rich, nutty, and chocolatey flavours that people love most. It is often done at 200 - 400F. Many polyphenols (some of the superfood properties in cocoa) will start to degrade at temperatures above 120F, but again, we are reminding you that the bulk of the studies demonstrating the superfood properties of cocoa are testing commercially available chocolate bars which would have gone through a roasting process.
Conching is the slow process of mixing the sugars, cocoa, and milk powder (if you’re making milk chocolate) over time, at a range of temperatures (from 45 - 90C). This process homogeneously blends the ingredients and further develop some specific flavour nuance to the finished chocolate. Any chocolate that you determine to be “smooth” has gone through a conching process.
One of the key reasons why cocoa is considered a superfood is because it's packed full of antioxidants. These are important molecules that protect our cells from damage caused by free radicals. Free radicals are harmful molecules that can be generated by things like stress, pollution, and UV radiation. Over time, this cell damage can lead to serious health problems like heart disease and cancer. Antioxidants help to counteract the effects of free radicals, keeping our cells healthy and preventing disease.
Cocoa is one of the richest sources of antioxidants around - in fact, it contains more antioxidants than green tea and red wine! Studies have shown that consuming cocoa can help to reduce blood pressure, improve blood flow, and protect against heart disease. The antioxidants in cocoa may also help to slow the aging process by reducing inflammation and improving skin elasticity.
The benefits of cocoa don't stop there - recent research has also shown that cocoa can boost brain function and improve cognitive performance. One study found that people who consumed high levels of flavanols (a type of antioxidant found in abundance in cocoa) performed better in tests of working memory than those who consumed low levels of flavanols. The flavonols in cocoa can help increase blood flow to the brain and improve cognitive function. Cocoa may also improve memory, reaction time, and mental processing speed. Sounds like a great advantage when you’re making moves on the bike course.
In fact, as reported by the Los Angeles Times "Chocolate was the first nonalcoholic stimulant drink Europeans ever encountered (coffee wouldn’t reach Italy until 1615 and tea took even longer). The Spanish were impressed by this strengthening medicine. You could travel all day after drinking a single cup in the morning, they said, and some of their doctors claimed chocolate was a perfect all-in-one food". This is partly because cocoa contains BOTH caffeine and theobromine which are stimulants to brain function and blood flow.
Finally, chocolate is also a good source of fiber and minerals like magnesium, iron, and zinc… have you noticed that you get a good dose of your daily iron intake when eating one serving of our Everest endurance or superfood bars?
So there you have it - cocoa really is a superfood! If you're looking for a delicious way to boost your health, snacking on one of our superfood or endurance bars is a great option! Thanks to its high antioxidant content, consuming dark chocolate along with an active lifestyle (cardiovascular exercise a couple of times a week), can help to reduce your risk of serious diseases like heart disease and cancer. Cocoa may also help to improve brain function and cognitive performance. So next time you're looking for a healthy snack, reach for one of our dark chocolate superfood bars instead of a bag of chips!