Il cacao that we consume is the seed of the cocoa plant (Theobroma cacao), belonging to the Sterculiacee family, from which the powder used in the production of chocolate is obtained
Cocoa is grown in the tropical climate countries of Central and South America and West Africa. The main products obtained from cocoa beans, through processes that cause changes in color and texture, are:
- Cocoa powder, which also contains a part of cocoa butter, obtained by a mechanical process and used to make chocolate and as an ingredient in other pastry products;
- Cocoa butter, which is the fatty substance, used as an ingredient in chocolate, but also for the preparation of cosmetic products.
Cocoa is made up of: sugars (64%); grassi, cocoa butter (22%); protein (6%); mineral salts (4%), mainly potassium, sodium, phosphorus, calcium, iron and zinc; theobromine (1,7%), an alkaloid, which is a nitrogen-based substance similar to caffeine; caffeine in minimal quantity; essential oils and tannins, minor components that give the cocoa aroma and color characteristic of the seed.
The high percentage of sugar and grassi makes cocoa a highly energetic and nutritious food: about 330 kcal per 100 g of bitter powder. It is therefore a particularly suitable substance when carrying out activities with high energy expenditure.
The stimulating effect on the central nervous system, which varies from individual to individual, is due to theobromine. The small amount of caffeine contained in cocoa reinforces the stimulating effect of theobromine and promotes digestion.
The studies conducted so far show, contrary to what is generally believed, that there is no direct link between the consumption of cocoa and disorders such as dermatosis, acne, dental caries, hives and increased blood cholesterol level.
Properties, benefits and use of cocoa butter