The name cocoa powder might lead you to believe that the food is a sweet treat, rather than something that deserves a more regular spot in your healthy eating plan. You should reconsider, however. While Hershey's cocoa powder isn't a super food by any means, it does supply several key nutrients and offers certain health benefits that could help stave off health problems. Choosing the right Hershey's cocoa powder is a good way to increase your intake of these nutrients, as well as help keep your body healthy.
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Fiber Is a Plus
One tablespoon of Hershey's cocoa powder, including the Special Dark and unsweetened varieties, contains 2 grams of fiber. That translates to 11 percent of the 25 grams of fiber women need each day and 5 percent of the 38 grams men require on a daily basis. Fiber helps keep your digestive system working properly, which cuts down on your risk of constipation. Including plenty of fiber in your daily diet is also a good way to lower your risk of certain health problems such as heart disease and type 2 diabetes. It might also help lower your cholesterol levels.
Supplies a Bit of Iron
The label on a package of Hershey's cocoa powder states that one tablespoon of delivers about 10 percent of your daily iron needs. This is somewhat misleading, however, because men and women need different amounts of iron in their daily diets. One tablespoon of the powder delivers 0.75 milligram of iron, which is 4 percent of the 18 milligrams women need each day and 9 percent of the 8 milligrams men require on a daily basis. Iron helps your body make red blood cells, which move oxygen to your cells and muscles, and it also helps your body make energy.
Cocoa Powder for Good Health
Michael T. Murray and Joseph E. Pizzorno, authors of "The Encyclopedia of Healing Foods," note that the antioxidants in chocolate, including cocoa powder, can protect your cells from damage, which, in turn, might lower your risk of certain medical conditions. Chocolate also contains plant sterols, called sitosterol and stigmasterol, which can help reduce LDL, or bad, cholesterol levels. The compounds in chocolate can also reduce your risk of a blood clot, Murray and Pizzorno report.
Adding Cocoa Powder to Your Diet
Opt for dark, unsweetened cocoa powder. According to Murray and Pizzorno, the darker the powder, the more beneficial compounds it contains. Most large supermarkets stock Hershey's Special Dark or other types of dark chocolate powder; a tablespoon contains just 10 calories. Sprinkle Hershey's cocoa powder over a bowl of oatmeal or into a serving of low-fat plain yogurt. Add a tablespoon or two of the powder to a homemade bread or muffin recipe as another way to use it. Think outside the box, too. Add a small amount of cocoa powder to chili to infuse it with a new flavor or add it to a meat marinade for a twist on your usual recipe.