Last updated on December 14th, 2013
The benefits of having cocoa in your food preps (and your regular consumption) are many.
While advancing your overall food storage inventory, consider supplementing your food-staples with a variety beyond just the basics. Spicy or sweet foods, herbs, powders, etc., will provide flavors to satisfy the pallet.
A particularly good choice for the ‘sweet tooth’ (and your health) is COCOA.
How about a nice steaming cup of HOT CHOCOLATE…
Chocolate or Cocoa comes from the cacao bean (pronounced, cah-cow), which are the dried seeds of a South American evergreen tree (Theobroma cacao). It is also referred to as the cocoa bean.
Cocoa has more phenols and flavenoids attributing to about twice the antioxidants of red wine, three times those found in green tea, and twelve times as much as blueberries, according to Cornell University food scientists and research published in American Chemical Society’s Journal of Agriculture and Food Chemistry.
US Department of Agriculture researchers measured the antioxidant power of cocoa to be an incredible 80,933 (ORAC) units, (Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity). ORAC is a method developed by scientists at the National Institutes of Health. Foods higher on the ORAC scale are better at neutralizing free radicals (free radical damage contributes to age-related degeneration, cancer and disease).
A Harvard research study found that an Indian tribe in Panama that drank up to 40 cups a week of a traditionally prepared hot cocoa had 90% less cancer, heart disease and diabetes than neighboring tribes that did not consume hot cocoa.
Health Benefits of Cocoa
According to the American Association for the Advancement of Science, drinking hot chocolate can help you think better. The flavonoids increase the blood flow and oxygen to the brain.
Dilates arteries and improves blood flow.
Reduced tendency to form damaging clots.
Lowers blood pressure.
Helps detoxify the liver.
Promotes positive feelings and fights depression.
Promotes mental alertness.
Be aware that commercial instant hot cocoa mixes are usually NOT as good for you, compared to the real thing… For example, one popular hot chocolate mix lists cocoa fifth on the list of ingredients, beneath the higher-level ingredients of sugar, corn syrup and a medley of vegetable oils.
To get the full benefits of cocoa powder with the highest ORAC score, you should search for pure organic cocoa powder that has not been roasted or processed at high temperatures. Epicatechins (key flavanols found in cocoa powder) are often removed from commercial cocoas because they tend to have a bitter taste.
Shelf Life Of Cocoa
If cocoa is stored properly it does not really go bad, but the flavor and quality do decrease over time (several years). If the cocoa has remained dry and looks fine, then your sense of taste is the best way to tell if it is still good. When cocoa is no longer good, the chocolate taste in the powder disappears.
Proper food storage is the key to extending the shelf life of any food.
Cocoa should be kept in a cool dry place like the pantry. The original container is fine, as long as it is properly re-sealed after each use. Like most other foods, it is susceptible to oxidation so the less it is exposed to air the better. Also remember to use a clean spoon or pour your powder into your cup to avoid cross contamination.