Focus On: Cocoa

WHAT IT IS: Cacao bean, better known as cacao or cocoa, is a fatty bean in the Malvaceae family. Cocoa beans are the source for cocoa solids and cocoa butter.

[ Sources ]

The basis of chocolate, cocoa is increasingly found in supplements. Cocoa butter is used in lotions that are applied to skin to treat wrinkles and stretch marks during pregnancy.

[ Benefits ]

The high levels of flavonoids in cocoa have been shown to have beneficial cardiovascular effects. This is based on raw cocoa or dark chocolate—the flavonoids degrade during the cooking process and with the addition of whole milk. LDL cholesterol may also be positively impacted from cocoa consumption. Foods rich in cocoa may also reduce blood pressure.

[ Recommended Dosage ]

To receive the greatest benefits from cocoa, experts suggest eating dark chocolate on a regular basis. WebMD recommends 46 to 105 grams a day of dark or milk chocolate, providing 213 to 500 mg of the active ingredients, cocoa polyphenols.

[ Warnings ]

Cocoa is generally considered safe. It does contain caffeine, which could case nervousness, increased urination, sleeplessness, and a fast heartbeat in large amounts. Cocoa might also cause constipation, migraines, and digestive issues.

[ Cocoa Picks ]

CocoaVia Extract, $35, 30 packets, cocoavia.com // Reserveage CocoaWell Maximum Potency Organic Cocoa, $22, 60 veggie capsules, reserveage.com // Source Naturals ChocoLift 500 mg, $10, 30 capsules, sourcenaturals.com