Everything you should know
Are you a chocolate lover too? Several studies have confirmed that cocoa extract contains specific polyphenols called cocoa flavanols, which are typically found in higher amounts in dark chocolate than milk or white chocolate. Compared to other plant products, cocoa extract is packed with (-)- epicatechin, a powerful antioxidant. This explains why so many supplements and skincare products feature the cocoa extract in their formulas: the benefits for our beauty and wellness are plenty!
Cocoa extract: let's see...
Supplementing cocoa extract or eating dark chocolate (containing at least 75% cocoa) is linked to better blood flow and improved insulin sensitivity. Researchers suggest that (-)-epicatechin may also provide benefits for longevity by increasing blood flow and oxygenation in the brain, playing a protective role during aging. What is fundamental is how the cocoa is processed, in order to preserve its flavanol content. Say yes to top quality products and you won't regret it. As experts well know, cocoa could look the same but it's not. Cocoa powder is raw cacao that has been roasted at high temperatures. The sad thing is the process of roasting a pure ingredient at high temperature conditions affects the nutrient profile of the final product, altering the molecular structure of cocoa, impoverishing it. On the other side, raw cacao is made by cold pressing unroasted cacao beans: with this process, the living enzymes in the cacao are preserved. You can test products by looking at the percentage of cocoa listed. And you should also start paying attention to the origins of the ingredient. Generally, the darker the chocolate — meaning the higher the cacao content — the higher the mineral content.
Cocoa: a brain friendly ingredient
Cocoa extract is also a rich source of a compound called theobromine. Described as the weaker cousin to caffeine, it influences similar brain processes, with positive aspects on our cognitive performances. The flavonoids contained in cocoa extract have antioxidant properties, meaning that they have the ability to reduce the effects of cell damage caused by oxidative stress. A research team of the University of L’Aquila in Italy uncovered evidence of a link between consumption of cocoa flavanols and almost immediate improvements in working memory. And a research team in South Korea found that cocoa contains more polyphenolic compounds and a higher antioxidant capacity than teas and red wine.
Cocoa extract in your skincare: oh yes!
Cocoa extract proves to be very effective at preserving skin’s moisture balance. What it does is restore the lipidic layer of our skin, reinforcing the skin barrier and helping in case of dry and damaged skin. Not surprisingly, a growing body of evidence from clinical and bench research has begun to provide scientific validation for the use of cocoa-derived phytochemicals as an effective approach for skin protection. And it looks like theobromine can scavenge reactive oxygen species (ROS) generated in the skin as a consequence of UV exposure, helping the tissues recover and slowing the ageing process. If skin elasticity and tone improve too, the credit goes to cocoa polyphenols, mainly flavanols. As several studies have shown, these compounds act as strong antioxidants, effectively intercepting and neutralising free radicals, helping minimise damage within the skin. The skin application of cocoa polyphenols has been shown to positively affect several parameters of skin elasticity and skin tone. This said, cocoa extract also improves the appearance of cellulite, by firming the skin and breaking down adipose tissue, with a skin-smoothing result that makes it the perfect ally for every woman.