Cocao Powder – The Super Food

Super food powders are on the rise. Many of us are trying to improve our health with the aid of powders like super greens, Maca and Cocao. We can add them to smoothies, protein ball blends, our breakfasts or baking. Here is a little bit of insight to Cocao.

Where did it come from?

Cocao, which is also known as coca and cacoa is made from roasted and ground cocoa seeds that have been harvested from the Throbroma tree. The Theobroma tree grows within 20° of the equator and requires shade and humidity. It is said to have originated in South America and Mexico. The Olmec’s first discovered cocoa fruit and ate it in 1500-400 BC.  Traditionally Aztecs would harvest the beans from their pods, ferment the beans, roast them, grind them into a paste, and mix them with water, added spices, chillies and herbs (Coe’s Theory). Cocoa was something you drank up until about 150 years ago. 

Why is it a superfood?

Cocoa powder has a unique composition of fatty acids and antioxidants – giving cocoa a natural stability preventing oxidation

Antioxidant Properties:

  • Polyphenols – Flavonoids (chemical compound found in plants)
  • Vitamins E & C

Antioxidants can help protect cells against:

  • Cancer
  • Cardiovascular diseases
  • Metabolic syndrome

Note:  processing greatly reduces antioxidant concentration by more than 80% 

How does it benefit you Nutritionally?

  • 10g/day decreases↓ systolic blood pressure
  • 6.3g/day consumed by adults with hypertension decreases ↓blood pressure and increases ↑ vasodilation
  • 6.7g/day evidence of anti-inflammatory effects
  • 10g/day increases ↑ cognitive performance
  • 20g/day decreases ↓ cardiovascular problems in the overweight, healthy & obese
  • 4g/day decreases ↓ risk of diabetes
  • 46g/day (2 weeks) improved endothelial function

So overall about 5-10g/day or 30g/week shows evidence of positive health benefits

How does it benefit you psychologically?

Serotonin – calming/mood balance

Theobromine – the “love drug” /endorphins

Anandamide – Happiness/similar feelings to marijuana

Caffeine (moderate dosage) –  increases ↑ mood having an aphrodisiac effect

Are there any negative impacts?

In some instances, there has been issues with:

  • Headaches and migraines
  • People with Irritable Bowel Syndrome – Not recommended
  • People with reflux – Not recommended


Cocoa does not = chocolate. In fact, the dark brown, pleasantly bitter, chemically complex substance we know as chocolate bears little resemblance to the pulp surrounded seeds of the cocoa plant from which it is produced. One would never suspect that one could actually be derived from the other.  To be called chocolate a product must simply contain the ingredient “cocoa”

“After water, cocoa is the single healthiest substance you can put in your mouth. It can easily replace a number of psychiatric drugs for mood, plus it produces the same chemistry in the brain that occurs when we fall in love.” Chris Kilham


Amanda de Souza
Amanda de Souza

My health and fitness journey began in 2012 and although I am still a work in progress I am learning more every day and want to educate others as much as I can. Follow more great advice from Amanda on Instagram.