Cocoa, that beloved ingredient that is integral to the manufacture of chocolate, is also a substance that is used medicinally for a number of purposes. It is used under its own name or could also be listed as any of several alternative names as well. Among the names for cocoa that you might find on a product package for weight loss supplements or other products include: cocoa bean, cocoa oleum, cocoa semen, cocoa butter, cocoa seed, 3,7-dihydro-3,7-dimethyl-1h-purine-2 6-dione, chocolat, chocolat noir, dark chocolate, beurre de cacao, cacao, feve de cacao, Dutch chocolate, cocoa teste, graine de cacao, and many more.
Cocoa refers to the plant that produces the ingredients used in making chocolate. Chocolate is produced when roasted cocoa seeds (also called kernels) are pressed between hot rollers. The powder is made when the cocoa butter’s fat is pressed out of the bitter chocolate. What is left behind can be powdered. On the other hand, sweet chocolate is made when the bitter chocolate has sugar and vanilla added to it. White chocolate is made out of cocoa butter, sugar and milk solids but does not contain the powdered cocoa.
This substance is best known as a treat in food and beverages, but is also found in medicines for asthma, diarrhea, intestinal diseases, bronchitis and may even be used as a lung congestion expectorant. It is used to help with problems with the kidneys and bladder, diabetes and for the liver. It can be used as a general remedy, as a tonic, or as a part of a weight loss formula as well as for high cholesterol.
There has been a great deal of media attention around the potentially helpful properties of chocolate, particularly in its dark form. This is mainly because of the high number of flavonoids in cocoa which can promote cardiovascular health. Dark chocolate contains the most flavonoids of all the popular types of chocolate.
Research has indicated that cocoa – such as what is found in very dark chocolate and cocoa products – can help to reduce high blood pressure when consumed appropriately over time. Some early studies have also suggested that cocoa may also help to reduce high cholesterol, though that research is still in its preliminary phase.
Unfortunately, no matter what certain pill manufacturers may tell you, cocoa has not been adequately proven to have a direct link with fat loss. There is some evidence that exists, but only enough to say that it may be worth further study. Some of the earliest research indicates that eating two dark chocolate squares and/or a sugar-free cocoa beverage every day for 18 weeks – while following an overall calorie reduced diet – may have an impact on weight, but there has yet to be conclusive evidence of this connection.