Theobroma cacao, cocoa (chocolate)
Dark chocolate. It's one of my favorite unguilty pleasures. I can admit to being a true chocoholic. It's not sweet milk chocolate that I go for, but a rich, dark, somewhat bitter chocolate with at least 72% cocoa. My affinity for this delicious confection caused me to think a bit more about 'why' I crave it.
Here's what I discovered:
Chocolate makes me feel good!
Chocolate has been shown to improve depression and anxiety symptoms and to help enhance feelings of calmness and contentedness. Naturally occurring antioxidants (flavanols), caffeine and theobromine all play a role in chocolate’s mood-enhancing effects.
It helps me focus.
Chocolate is now considered an anti-aging, anti-inflammatory “superfood” for the brain and body, well the skin too.
According to researchers, the aforementioned flavanols absorbed when chocolate is consumed, accumulate in the brain regions involved in learning and memory. These flavanols increase blood flow to the brain, promote the formation of new neurons, improve the functioning of neurons, enhance connections between neurons, and protect neurons from death by free radicals.
Perhaps my craving is telling me something.
Cocoa solids contain vitamins, minerals, fiber, and polyphenols. More importantly here, it contains several essential minerals that are necessary to the body, like magnesium, copper, potassium, iron and calcium. It is also important to note that these particular minerals are among those identified as being the most commonly deficient in our diets.
It's both an internal and external skin superfood.
Chocolate is super abundant in polyphenol antioxidants, similarly to those found in dark berries, red wine and green tea. In fact, cocoa contains more antioxidants than many fruits and vegetables. The antioxidants found in cocoa protect the skin from the inside by neutralizing oxidative stress, a major factor of dermal structure deterioration and premature skin aging. A number of studies have identified a role of cocoa flavanols in protecting skin from UV damage.
Data also shows that cocoa components have important antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and photoprotective functions on the skin. Pertaining to skin health, cocoa components have been administered in diseases, such as skin cancer, psoriasis, acne and wound healing and it has been shown that cocoa has great potential not only for the treatments of skin diseases, but also for their prevention.
Cocoa butter, which is also derived from the cocoa bean is most commonly known for its ability to soothe dry skin, prevent peeling, speed healing and prevent or minimize stretch marks. This is in part due to the polyphenols and fatty acids present. Research shows that cocoa butter polyphenols have demonstrated improved skin elasticity and skin tone, collagen retention, collagen production, and increased hydration.
Used in skin care, both cocoa and cocoa butter's antioxidant properties improves skin's texture and tone. When used as a part of a regular regimen, skin becomes increasingly softer, significantly reducing fine lines and wrinkles, demonstrating cocoa's superior anti-aging effects.
Cocoa and cocoa butter used in soap and facial masks, softens skin, improves skin tone and reduces discoloration caused by skin damage. Similar to lemon's effect on acne scarring, both cocoa and cocoa butter are known to lighten blemishes and scars. Using cocoa infused products leads to skin that is firmer, better hydrated, brighter, and naturally radiant.
Pure cocoa is one of our favorite ingredients to craft with. A customer favorite for rough, dry, blemished skin is our Dark Chocolate Patchouli Complexion Bar.
Chocolate Benefits for Your Brain: Memory and Mood Improvement. (2019, February 06). Retrieved March 10, 2019, from https://universityhealthnews.com/daily/memory/2-chocolate-benefits-for-your-brain-improves-memory-and-mood/
Katz, D. L., Doughty, K., & Ali, A. (2011). Cocoa and chocolate in human health and disease. Antioxidants & redox signaling, 15(10), 2779-811.
Nehlig A. (2013). The neuroprotective effects of cocoa flavanol and its influence on cognitive performance. British journal of clinical pharmacology, 75(3), 716-27.
Scapagnini, G., Davinelli, S., Di Renzo, L., De Lorenzo, A., Olarte, H. H., Micali, G., Cicero, A. F., … Gonzalez, S. (2014). Cocoa bioactive compounds: significance and potential for the maintenance of skin health. Nutrients, 6(8), 3202-13. doi:10.3390/nu6083202
Theobroma Cacao. Retrieved March 10, 2019, from https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/neuroscience/theobroma-cacao