The Health Benefits of Cocoa and Cupuacu.
The health benefits of cocoa and its lesser-known relative cupuaçu are attracting the increasing attention of medical and nutrition scientists. The constituents of cocoa and cupuaçu are very similar; both are rich in vitamins, minerals and protein, and each contain over 700 different compounds that importantly include antioxidants. In addition to their very low sugar, high fibre and zero cholesterol content, both powders are lactose and gluten free. A tablespoon (5 grams) of unsweetened cocoa or cupuaçu powder contains 12 calories, 2g of fibre, 1g of protein and just 0.1g of sugar. Sodium is low at 1%, while saturated fat content is around 8%. There are no trans fatty acids present, with Omega-6 among the powders’ ‘good’ fats. Multifunctional vitamins are numerous and include thiamin, riboflavin and niacin. Just as numerous are minerals, including iron, zinc, magnesium and manganese, the daily intake of which is essential variously to the functioning and maintenance of the heart, bones and immune system.
Where cocoa and cupuaçu principally differ is in their respective levels of caffeine. Cupuaçu powder typically contains 1 milligram of caffeine per gram compared to cocoa powder with 8 milligrams per gram. For those seeking a low caffeine diet, cupuaçu can thus be seen as possessing an additional health benefit over cocoa. Nonetheless, caffeine levels in cocoa are much lower than those in coffee.
Health scientists have begun to focus on the polythenol antioxidants present in cocoa and cupuaçu. Of these ‘superfood’ properties, flavanols called catechins and epicatechins are believed to exert a beneficial influence on cardiovascular health. In recent studies, flavanols have been shown to help reduce the oxidation of ‘bad cholesterol’, a major trigger of coronary disease. They also act as a muscle relaxant in blood vessels thereby lowering blood pressure, and inhibit the clumping together of blood platelets that causes hardening of the arteries.
Along with all of these benefits, Discover’s cocoa and cupuaçu powders contain no E numbers or added oils and are free from flavourings, colourings and preservatives.