Cocoa is one of the oldest cultivated plants in the world. The tasty bean has a long tradition as food, medicine and even in ritual ceremonies for thousands of years and across many cultures. Today, cocoa is best known as the basis for chocolate and hot chocolate, although the health benefits of cocoa are largely unknown to most people.
We also take advantage of the special characteristics of the tasty beans and use cocoa butter, cocoa and cocoa nibs for some of our products. In this article we will therefore take a closer look at the many benefits of cocoa, its history, how it is created and why it is particularly important to pay attention to high quality cocoa products.
The secret weapon of the Maya and Aztecs
Cocoa has an astonishingly long and illustrious history as a natural remedy. Because: It has been used by many different cultures for thousands of years for its health-promoting properties.
In Mesoamerican culture, particularly the Maya and Aztecs, cacao was revered as a medicinal agent and cultural symbol. Indigenous cultures used cacao not only for its medicinal properties but also for its spiritual meaning. At that time, cacao was considered the " drink of the gods " by the Maya and Aztecs and was used by them in various religious ceremonies and celebrations.
The Maya used cacao as a heart tonic and to treat digestive problems. They also attributed cocoa as having an aphrodisiac effect and as a stimulant for cognitive functions.
The Aztecs also used cocoa to treat digestive problems and to strengthen the heart. They also believed that cocoa had a cleansing effect on the body and mind. Additionally, cacao was consumed by the Aztecs as a detoxification agent.
When the Mesoamerican lands were finally colonized, cacao was shipped and imported to Europe, where it quickly became the latest luxury item for the rich and famous. At that time, Europeans enjoyed cocoa, particularly in the form of chocolate. The Europeans also quickly recognized the medicinal potential of cocoa and used it to treat indigestion, fever and nervousness. Over the course of the following centuries, cocoa was also used to prevent and treat cardiovascular diseases, diabetes and other diseases.
Cocoa in modern times
Cocoa remains popular across our spectrum and is consumed by most people as food and for enjoyment. Cocoa is now being used more and more regularly in the cosmetics industry, as its antioxidant and moisturizing properties make it a suitable ingredient for skin care products.
How is “cocoa” created?
The creation of cocoa as we know it is biologically quite complex. Cocoa is obtained from the seeds of the cacao tree, which grows in tropical regions such as Africa, South America and Asia.
The biological process begins with the small flowers that grow directly on the trunk of the cocoa tree and only bloom for a short time - often the flowers only bloom for a few hours. Only within this time window can the flowers be pollinated so that the fruits can develop. These delicate flowers are usually pollinated by mosquitoes up to three millimeters in size or by cocoa farmers who pollinate the flowers by hand with a brush.
After a flower has been pollinated, the fertilized flower grows into a stately cocoa fruit within about six months. During this time the next flowers appear on the trunk of the tree. As soon as the fruits are ripe, they are removed from the cocoa trunk with a targeted and clean cut.
The fruit of the cacao tree, cacao pods, contain beans enclosed in pods. These pods are harvested, opened and the beans are extracted.
The cocoa beans are then dried in the sun to remove excess moisture. They are then roasted to improve the taste and aroma. The roasted beans are then ground to produce what is known as cocoa mass. This cocoa mass is then further processed to produce cocoa butter, cocoa nibs and cocoa powder. Cocoa is very nutritious in all three forms, which is why we use cocoa butter, nibs and cocoa powder in some of our smart food products .
It is important to note that the process of cocoa production is very labor intensive and is often carried out by small farmers in developing countries. Unfortunately, many of these small farmers are not paid fairly for their work. It is therefore particularly important to pay attention to ethical production and the purchase of certified cocoa products such as Fair Trade Cocoa, Rainforest Alliance and UTZ to ensure that cocoa farmers are paid fairly and nature remains protected.
And what exactly makes cocoa a superfood?
Cocoa, the superfood for body and mind
As previously mentioned, cacao can have a variety of health benefits, ranging from improving cognitive function to preventing disease. One of the main reasons why cacao is so beneficial to the body is because it is rich in antioxidants.
Antioxidants are molecules that help neutralize harmful free radicals in the body, thereby preventing damage to cells and tissues. Cocoa contains a high concentration of flavonols, a type of antioxidant that may have a positive effect on cognitive function. A 2011 study showed that flavonols from cocoa can improve blood flow to the brain and increase cognitive performance.
In addition to improving cognitive functions, cocoa also has an anti-inflammatory effect. Inflammation, the body's normal response to injury or infection, can sometimes become chronic and lead to various diseases. Cocoa contains a compound called epicatechin, which has anti-inflammatory properties and can therefore have a preventive effect. A 2010 study found that epicatechin from cocoa may reduce inflammation in blood vessels and even lower the risk of heart disease.
Cocoa also contains magnesium, a mineral important for muscle, bone and nerve health. Magnesium can also help lower blood pressure, which can reduce the risk of heart disease and stroke.
In addition, cocoa also contains theobromine - a compound that has a similar effect to caffeine but lasts longer in the body. Theobromine can help improve mood and increase physical performance. At this point, always keep in mind that although theobromine is very healthy for humans, it is highly toxic for dogs. So never give your dog foods containing cocoa in the belief that cocoa is certainly good for your four-legged friend.
Ultimately, the quality of cocoa is one of the main aspects that determines its health potential. Cocoa, which is offered as cocoa powder with additives, is often very high in sugar, which is why it cannot be considered as beneficial to health. High-quality and little-processed cocoa products, such as: B. Cocoa nibs or highly deoiled cocoa powder without added sugar have more nutrients and can be taken in the recommended quantities with a clear conscience.
Organic quality is particularly important for cocoa
The agricultural aspects surrounding cocoa also determine its effect on our bodies. Not all cocoa products are created equal and there are big differences in the quality and health benefits of cocoa. A particularly important factor that influences the quality of cocoa is the way it is grown.
Cocoa grown conventionally may contain pesticides, herbicides and other chemicals that can be harmful to our bodies. Organically grown cocoa is always the better choice because it is grown without the use of chemicals. As with all of our ingredients, we only use organically grown cocoa for our products and are advocates of regenerative agriculture.
Another factor that affects the quality of cocoa is processing. Many commercial cocoa products contain high levels of added sugar and other additives that can reduce the health benefits of cocoa. It is best to choose pure cocoa products that are additive-free and ideally organic. That's why we also use highly deoiled cocoa powder for our regeneration shake with Swiss chocolate , as well as cocoa butter and cacao nibs for our organic protein bars - of course from organic farming.
In addition to the quality of the cocoa products, it is important to pay attention to the portion size. Although cocoa offers many health benefits, it also contains calories and should be consumed in quantities, like all foods in general. We have therefore adjusted the amount of cocoa powder to be ideal for daily use.
Nutrition Bite BIO – Focus on cocoa
BETHECHANGE uses the wonderful potential and valuable ingredients of cocoa and has used this to create the perfect snack for in between meals.
Our Nutrition Bites consist of purely organic ingredients, are Swiss Made and contain cocoa butter, cocoa nibs and cocoa - all from ethically operated organic farming.
The organic protein bars are available in two varieties: Cacao Honey & Almond Crunch and Cacao Honey & Raspberry Sparkle . The tasty bars are easy-to-digest snacks for all those who value a healthy, balanced diet - and cocoa lovers like us.
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