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What Are the Health Benefits of Cocoa & Coffee?

by
author image Diane Lynn
Diane Lynn began writing in 1998 as a guest columnist for the "Tallahassee Democrat." After losing 158 pounds, she wrote her own weight-loss curriculum and now teaches classes on diet and fitness. Lynn also writes for The Oz Blog and her own blog, Fit to the Finish. She has a Bachelor of Science in finance from Florida State University.
What Are the Health Benefits of Cocoa & Coffee?
Consuming cocoa or coffee in moderate quantities can benefit your health. Photo Credit chocolate bar and coffee beans image by Kokhanchikov from <a href='http://www.fotolia.com'>Fotolia.com</a>

Both cocoa and coffee begin as beans. Manufacturers grind coffee or cocoa beans, and coffee aficionados grind the coffee beans for drinks. Cocoa beans, once processed, make the basis for chocolate candy and numerous desserts. Ground coffee beans make coffee, espresso, gourmet coffee drinks and a variety of coffee-based desserts. Although both cocoa and coffee drinks can be high in calories, there are benefits to both foods.

Cocoa Nutrients

Cocoa possesses high amounts of antioxidants, according to a publication announcing 2003 study results published in the “Journal of Agriculture and Food Chemistry” led by Cornell University. Antioxidants work within your body to fight off diseases such as cancer and potentially fatal heart disease. A serving of cocoa has higher concentrations of flavonoids than either red wine or green tea. Additionally, 1/2 cup of dry cocoa powder has 98 calories, 8.4 g of protein and 5.9 g of fat. Over half the fat in cocoa powder comes from less healthy saturated fat. If you consume 2,000 calories a day, the saturated fat in cocoa gives you 1.5 percent of your allowed saturated fat intake, making it an acceptable choice.

Coffee Nutrients

Coffee contains less than 3 calories per cup, a trace of protein and fat, no dietary fiber and no naturally occurring sugar, according to the USDA Nutrient Data Laboratory. A cup of standard brewed coffee has about 95 mg of caffeine. The coffee contains little other nutrients; however, it does have small amounts of choline, some B vitamins, potassium and calcium. Positive aspects to coffee include its relatively high antioxidant content, which benefits your body’s ability to fend off certain diseases.

Cocoa Benefits

In addition to the antioxidant benefits of cocoa, eating cocoa in the form of dark chocolate bars may be beneficial for your blood pressure. A meta-analysis, performed by researchers from the Cardiology Department at a German university, found that participants who consumed either dark chocolate or beverages made with cocoa powder experienced a positive effect on their blood pressure. The study, published in the January 2010 issue of the “American Journal of Hypertension” also indicates that the proper dosage and side effects are not clear. Cocoa flavanols may also benefit your cardiovascular health, as indicated in a study published in the June 2008 edition of “Asia Pacific Journal of Clinical Nutrition.”

Coffee Benefits

Coffee is the second most consumed beverage after water, according to an article in the April 2011 issue of “Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition.” Coffee, because of its “rich phytochemistry,” may reduce your risk of developing type 2 diabetes, some cancers, degenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s and temporarily make you more alert. Because coffee is basically a zero calorie beverage, you can drink black, unsweetened coffee without affecting the number of calories you consume throughout the day. To avoid any jitteriness you may feel when drinking caffeinated coffee, choose to drink decaffeinated coffee.

Inclusion Strategies

Eating dark chocolate can benefit your health, but factor in the 156 calories per 1 oz. of 70 percent dark chocolate to avoid weight gain by eating too many calories from chocolate. Similarly, coffee with cream, whole milk, sugar or other high-calorie flavorings transforms the black coffee from a very low calorie beverage to a high-calorie one. Use natural, zero-calorie sweeteners in your coffee, skim milk or drink it black. Dr. Rob van Dam, from the Harvard School of Public Health, indicates that drinking six cups of coffee a day posed no higher risk of death than people who did not drink coffee.

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