There’s nothing quite like the taste of chocolate (unofficially, the most craved food in the world). Unfortunately, with great flavor comes great consequences. Chocolate always comes with tons of calories in the form of fat and sugar, right?

Not necessarily —  there is a way to satisfy those chocolate cravings while improving your overall health. Introducing cocoa powder, the answer to all of your problems. First, let me explain what cocoa powder actually is.

The chocolate-making process starts with cacao beans from cacao trees. After cacao beans are picked and fermented (to reach their full flavor potential), they are dried and roasted, then ground into a paste. From this paste, cocoa butter can be extracted, leaving the dry cocoa powder. A combination of the cocoa powder and cocoa butter (with the addition of some sweeteners) is used to make the chocolate that we hold dear to our mouths.

cocoa powder

Photo by Kevin Kozlik

Aside from being an essential baking ingredient in the kitchen, cocoa powder can be used in various ways and can be added to virtually anything. You can make hot cocoa with it, add it to your pancakes, put it in yogurt, or even eat it raw (although it’s not recommended) — check out this article for some inspiration on using a different powder in any food.

Cocoa powder can provide that delectable, rich chocolate flavor while providing you with some amazing benefits. Check it out.

Low Calorie/High Fiber

cocoa powder

Photo by Hannah Morse

One tablespoon of cocoa powder, depending on the brand, is only about 10 calories. It contains less than a gram of fat, just three grams of carbs, and one gram of protein. In addition to these great low numbers, the fiber content of cocoa powder is incredible, with up to two grams per tablespoon.

Fiber is essential in maintaining a healthy diet, and this 3-to-2 carb-to-fiber ratio is one of the best in the game. Cocoa powder is a very simple (and delicious) way to get more fiber in your body with a very small amount of calories.


Photo by Posey Memishiam

This magical powder contains the minerals iron, manganese, magnesium, and zinc.

Iron is important for carrying oxygen in the body, making red blood cells, and supporting the immune system. Manganese is part of an enzyme that forms cartilage and bones, metabolizes nutrients, and acts as an antioxidant throughout the body.

Magnesium produces energy and aids in maintaining your heart’s rhythm. And finally, zinc supports the immune system while helping produce and develop new cells. All of these benefits are yours with the ingestion of one tablespoon of cocoa powder, which contains three to nine percent of the daily recommended intake of these minerals.


cocoa powder

Photo by Parisa Soraya

A major component of cocoa powder’s health benefits is the presence of epicatechin and catechin, which are two plant-based substances called flavonoids.

While both prevent systematic inflammation by functioning as antioxidants, epicatechin can also relax the muscles in blood vessels, resulting in improved blood flow and a lower blood pressure. Flavonoids and big flavor? Cocoa powder is doing us a huge favor.


Photo by Emily Hu

There is some evidence indicating that cocoa powder can act as an antidepressant. Aside from the taste of chocolate immediately inducing joy, the neurotransmitter phenethylamine present in the powder acts as a mood elevator and natural antidepressant.

Cocoa powder may also boost natural opiates in the body called endorphins, as well as the neurotransmitter serotonin, which is stimulated by antidepressants to improve overall happiness.


cocoa powder

Photo by Mikayla Baiocchi

Each tablespoon of cocoa powder contains about 12 mg of caffeine. Sure, this might not be a lot compared to a cup of coffee or a glass of soda, but let’s be real — any amount of caffeine is a plus.

Next time you crave chocolate, you can forget about all of its bad stigma and negative attributes, because cocoa powder packs mouthwatering taste with incredible nutritional benefits. The best part is being able to eat chocolate-flavored foods multiple times a day without feeling guilt. Instead, feel good about treating your body (and your tastebuds) right.