With the advancements in science, we have now been able to map the metabolic pathway of certain nutrients and compounds through the body, cocoa included. This tells us their role in the body and from that, what health benefits they have. Unfortunately, studies showing the health benefits of cocoa are not referring to your average Cadburys slab, but pure cacoa. No that was not a spelling mistake...cacoa is the raw, unprocessed form of cocoa. Cacoa is made when roasted cocoa beans are cold-pressed. Cocoa powder is further processed (and depending on how the manufacturer does things this may lower it's health benefits slightly) to make it into its powder form.

Cacoa and cocao powder are rich in minerals such as magnesium, copper, phosphorus and iron. They also have powerful antioxidant properties. In addition, this superfood has been linked to allergy prevention and management, as well as the prevention of growth of pathogenic (harmful) bacteria in the gut. Who needs anymore reasons to enjoy chocolate??

Now, before you get ahead of yourself, when I say chocolate, please do not rush out to buy a Kit-Kat or the likes thereof. Commercial chocolate has very little cocoa in it and it uses vegetable fats instead of the natural cocoa butter. Of course, it is also PACKED with sugar.
Good quality chocolate (the health-boosting type) will be 70 percent or more cocoa solids and it will contain cocoa butter. Its taste is far different to that of artificial chocolate, and unfortunately there are not many of us who like it as most of the population has become so accustomed to incredibly sweet foods.

Aside from eating this good-quality chocolate, here are some recipes in which you can incorporate cocoa powder to get in those good nutrients and antioxidants. Buy a good quality cocoa powder and sweeten it with a natural sweetener such as stevia or some honey.

Cocoa and coconut smoothie:

You will need:

- 1/4 cup coconut milk
- 100 g cup double-thick Greek yoghurt
- 1 - 2 tablespoons of cocoa powder
- stevia / honey to sweeten
- ice cubes

Blend all the ingredients together and serve immediately.

Healthy chocolate milk shake:

You will need:

- 1 cup unsweetened almond milk'
- 1 frozen banana
- 1 tablespoon cocoa powder
- 1 teaspoon vanilla essence
- 8 to 10 ice cubes

Blend all together and serve immediately

Decadent hot chocolate

You will need:

- 2 blocks 90 % cocoa solids chocolate
- 1/2 cup cream
- 1/2 cup milk

Heat up all the ingredients slowly on the stove top. Once chocolate ha melted and the drink is warmed through, pour into a mug and enjoy. Sweeten with stevia if needed.