Cocoa. Who doesn't love cocoa? It's not just delicious, but nutritious! It's the version of cocoa which is consumed which really counts.
Cocoa contains more antioxidants than most foods, believe it or not. The flavonoids present in cocoa provide its antioxidant power. The flavonoids, including epicatechin, have favorable impacts on the artery lining, or vascular endothelium. It is when the endothelium is healthy and without plaque accumulation that people benefit from controlled blood pressure, decreased risk of stroke, for example. These positive biological situations may also directly influence insulin resistance and as a result, reduce risk for diabetes. Cocoa can protect nerves from injury and inflammation, and even protect skin from oxidative damage from UV radiation when prepared in topical preparations! Cocoa is also associated with beneficial effects on cognitive function, mood and satiety.
Because cocoa is often packaged with cocoa butter and made into chocolate candy, cocoa can have a bad rap too for causing weight gain, increasing risk for diabetes, etc... If, however, cocoa is consumed as its natural form daily it can be a real bonus for your health.
I'll enjoy a great piece of chocolate cake and hazelnut-cream filled chocolate bars like the best of 'em, but on a daily basis, not so much. Cocoa powder added to hot beverages will melt right into healthy goodness, and cocoa added into smoothies and added to sauces- now we're talkin'!