Tuesday, 29 November 2016

COCOA, THE GIFT OF NATURE.

How many times have you stopped to ponder on some of the many gifts of nature hidden in plants and fruits? I just felt like creating a writeup about a very popular plant in West Africa, Cocoa. The fruit of cocoa is a pod full of sweet tasting whit pulp, encasing a cluster of seeds. Cocoa trees are cultivate all over the world, with the heat of the cocoa market concentrated in some countries of West Africa. Along with its well known roles in manufacturing chocolate and beverages, the medicinal and health benefits of cocoa were recognized by various civilizations that existed thousands of years ago. 
My son, Ikem holding two ripe cocoa pads filled with nature's goodies.

A cocoa pod may contain between 30 to 50 seeds that are fairly soft. The cocoa tree is native to the Americas. It originated in Central America as well as parts of Mexico. Originally over 5000 years ago, Cocoa trees grow in hot, rainy tropical areas within 20° of latitude from the Equator. 


Cocoa was introduced into the rest of Asia and into West Africa by Europeans. In Ghana, Cocoa(Biologically known as cacao),  was introduced by an African, Tetteh Quarshie. Cocoa is grown across Nigeria, more of it within the Western states. Cocoa is used in the production of beverages - cocoa butter and chocolate among many others. Chocolate was introduced to Europe by the Spaniards, and became a popular beverage by the mid-17th century. 


There is also cocoa powder, which is produced by grinding dried cocoa seeds and removing the cocoa butter from the dark, bitter cocoa solids. People around the world enjoy cocoa in many different forms, consuming more than 3 million tons of cocoa beans yearly. Every consumer has a unique taste and preferences of the end product. Cocoa is rich source of antioxidants such as procyanidins and flavanoids, which may impart anti-aging properties. It contains a high level of flavonoids, specifically epicatechin, which may have beneficial effects on cardiovascular health. It is a stimulant and contains the compounds theobromine and caffeine. 


The beans contain between 0.1% and 0.7% caffeine, whereas dry coffee beans are about 1.2% caffeine.it reduces heart disease and cancer, it also improves the brain and have important implications for learning and memory, it reduces blood pressure. Study had proved that elderly people who drank cocoa had a 50 percent reduction in cardiovascular mortality and a 47 percent reduction in all-cause mortality.


CANCER

Research has proven that Cocoa contains certain ingredient(flavanols and procynidins), which inhibit the growth of abnormal(cancerous) cells, without affecting the normal cells. This discovery has been used it the treatment of deep sitter cancer like colon cancer and prostrate cancer.

WOUND HEALING

Cocoa extracts have been used to effect faster healing of wounds. In fact most natural products for wounds and pains have contain cocoa extracts, which also help in preventing the body from accepting infections through open wounds.



Image source: organicfacts

                                                                                             By DrRaphael James 
                                                                                             Contributions from
                                                                                              EBUBE Emeka
                      

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