After some serious stuff on green tea and sun protection, we thought of lightening things up a bit with some CHOCOLATE. Time to lap up some yum goodness! Keeping things simple, cocoa beans (from cocoa tree, botanically named Theobroma cacao) give us two products: cocoa powder and cocoa butter. Cocoa powder is mostly used in food products like drinking chocolate, dressings and the like, whereas cocoa butter - the fatty portion of the seed - is used in chocolate bars and cosmetics. Cocoa beans are a storehouse of goodies fit for internal and external use. How does cocoa benefit us - when eaten and when applied on skin?
Benefits of eating chocolate (really!)
Chocolate, as we commercially know it, is a mixture of fats, sugars, milk products, emulsifiers and flavors, besides cocoa beans. Unfortunately, chocolate has earned a bad name for itself from a health perspective, because of everything else (sugar, fats etc) that gets added to make it tastier. What are the benefits of consuming chocolate, and how do we get them?
- Antioxidants: Cocoa beans are rich in antioxidants, such as procyanidins and flavanoids. If you missed our popular post on antioxidants, you can take a look here. Antioxidants help the body fight the oxidation reactions caused by free radicals and other oxidising factors like sunlight, which in turn leads to premature ageing, cancer, and a host of other health problems. Oxidation can lead to skin looking aged, sagged and prone to breakouts and dryness, and we need antioxidants in our fight against oxidation.
- Good for heart: The high content of flavanoids is thought to be good for heart, although commercial chocolate with its saturated fat content may not score high on this count
- Feel-good: The high you get from eating or drinking chocolate is due to the presence of theobromine, a known stimulant. It's nice to feel good and relax once in a while - ultimately, being happy is key to remaining healthy!
Plum Tip: To get the benefits of cocoa without the fattening from chocolate, we would prefer cocoa powder and dark chocolate over the more sugary, fatty options available. Provided you lead a physically active life, even commercially available chocolate is good fun to have, once in a while!
Cocoa butter as a skin care ingredient
We love using cocoa butter in our skin care products, here's why:
- Outstanding moisturizer: Cocoa butter melts at around 35 deg C. Which means it is solid at room temperature, but melts in contact with skin, gets absorbed easily and remains liquid once it penetrates the outer layer of skin, making its goodies available for our skin to drink. It is an excellent emollient, i.e., helps skin retain its moisture
- Completely safe and non-toxic: Being fit for internal consumption makes us love any ingredient in our products. And we love cocoa butter for that!
- Antioxidants: Besides being rich in antioxidants, the availability of these goodies to our skin is enhanced because of cocoa butter's properties
- Smells yum: While we could also use deodorized cocoa butter, we prefer using raw cocoa butter as it adds a really deep, haunting aroma that can never come from synthetic fragrances.