Phytotherapy | COCOA BEAN – Theobroma cacao

Cocoa, the immensely popular bean pod from the Cacao tree, is the basis of all chocolate products and is actually a powerful source of healthy polyphenol antioxidants. The ancient Aztecs called cocoa “food of the gods” and 16th century European Conquistadors brought the fabled bean to Europe where its consumption was reserved for royalty and aristocrats. Cocoa contains phenyl ethylamine, the chemical the body releases when in love. Cocoa is known to increase the amount of endorphins in the body- the natural opiates that makes one feel better as well as reduce pain levels. Studies show that cocoa flavonoids have known cardiovascular benefits, including lowering blood pressure levels, reducing cholesterol levels and improving circulation and have some anti-platelet effects. Cocoa also contains small amounts of caffeine which provides a metabolic boost. Research studies are still preliminary, but the health effects of pure cocoa have been well documented.

Cocoa products are used extensively in food and pharmaceutical industries. Cocoa powder and cocoa butter are often mixed with sugar, milk and other flavors. However, it is pure cocoa sold in nibs or powder that carries the most antioxidant punch. Dark chocolate that contains 74% of cocoa solids is the purest and healthiest to consume.

Get Cooking:

Add cocoa to glazes when cooking sweet vegetables like carrot or sweet potato

Dust cocoa powder on pancakes and waffles

Add to smoothies

Pork Tenderloins with Cocoa Spice Rub

Yields: 8 servings, Prep time: 40 minutes

Spice Rub

1 tablespoon whole peppercorns

1 tablespoon coriander seeds whole

1 1/2 tablespoons cinnamon

2 teaspoons ground nutmeg

1 teaspoon ground cloves

31/2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa

4 tablespoons sea salt

  • 2 (2-pound) boneless pork tenderloins
  • 2 table spoons olive oil-preferably EVO

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

In a saute pan, over medium heat, toast coriander seeds and black peppercorns until they begin to pop. Remove from heat and grind to fine powder in a spice mill. Mix the ground pepper and coriander with remaining spices, cocoa and salt.

Trim the pork tenderloins of fat and slit the skin. Rub with a generous amount of the cocoa spice rub. Heat the olive oil in a large saute pan over medium high heat until hot but not smoking. Sear each piece of meat on all sides until a rich brown color, about 2 minutes on each side. Remove tenderloins from heat and finish in the oven for about 10 minutes or until cooked through.

Let the tenderloins rest out of the oven for at least 10 minutes before carving.

Extra cocoa spice rub will keep in an airtight container for up to 3 months.

Classic Hot Cocoa


  • 1 cup milk, either whole, non-fat, or two percent. Can also substitute rice milk or almond milk
  • 1/4 teaspoon true vanilla extract
  • Dash salt
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar, honey, or agave syrup
  • 2 to 3 teaspoons Cocoa Powder


Mix sugar, cocoa and salt in large mug.

Heat milk in microwave at HIGH (100%) 1-1/2 minutes or until hot.

Gradually add hot milk to cocoa mixture in mug, stirring until well blended.

Stir in vanilla. 1 serving.


Rich and Adult: Increase cocoa to 2 tablespoons; follow recipe above.

Lower Fat: Use nonfat milk; use part water-follow recipe above.

Sugar Free: Omit sugar. Combine cocoa and salt. Proceed as above, using nonfat milk.  Stir in vanilla with sweetening equivalence of 2 tablespoons sugar.


Lifestyle and Diet

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