Cocoa butter is an essential product for sweet lovers. High-quality chocolate, hot drinks and thermally processed desserts are prepared from it. For many, cocoa butter evokes an analogy with chocolate butter, which we so loved to receive with morning tea. However, the cocoa product is a clot of fat, colored yellowish-white, which exudes a pleasant aroma, filling the whole room with it.
The scope of the product does not end with the preparation of confectionery. It is used in cosmetology, perfumery, traditional and alternative medicine. Moreover, suppositories (painkillers and laxative suppositories) are made from oil.
The product is really multifaceted and ambiguous. Let's figure out what cocoa butter is and how it is useful to the modern consumer?
In ancient times, cocoa was considered a product exclusively for the wealthy segments of the population. While the aristocracy enjoyed the delicate taste and complained about the noticeable notes of bitterness, the working class collected grains, ground them into powder / oil and puzzled over the specifics of preparation. Today everything is much easier and more accessible. You don't have to be a capitalist to afford cocoa butter. Each manufacturer will be happy to offer an inexhaustible range of cocoa products, ranging from real 90% chocolate to candles for stomach pain.
Cocoa butter is the fat that is pressed from the ground beans of the chocolate tree. In appearance, the product is no different from the usual butter: the same bar of a yellowish-white hue, the consistency of which depends on the ambient temperature (up to + 25 ° C it retains a solid structure, and at 33-35 ° C it begins to melt). They produce two types of oil: natural and deodorized. The deodorized product undergoes additional processing and is used in various industries as an industrial component. A natural product is most often used in cooking as a base for desserts, appetizers and main courses.
How the product is obtained
The main source of grains and, accordingly, cocoa butter is the chocolate tree. This is an evergreen tree (genus Theobroma), which grows in South Africa, and is cultivated in all countries with a tropical climate.
Historical fact: the name of the genus Theobroma was given to plants by the Swedish physician and naturalist Carl Linnaeus, but the specific epithet “cacao” is rooted in the Aztec language. In the Slavic group of languages, in order to reduce the percentage of borrowings, they called the plant a chocolate tree, but the modern language is more plastic and uses the generally accepted form “cocoa”.
Fruits are plucked from trees, cut in half and packaged in special containers. A few days later, the process of fermentation (fermentation) begins in the containers. The pulp of the fruit of the chocolate tree contains a high concentration of vegetable sugar. It begins to decompose into constituent components like ethyl alcohol and carbon dioxide. The fruit begins to "ferment", the temperature of the pulp increases to 50°C. In about 10 days, the seeds lose their natural bitterness, change color to darker and acquire a noble chocolate aroma with subtle, fresh vegetable notes. The beans are dried, packed in the required containers and delivered to the points of sale or for further processing.
The beans are passed through special heated filters. In these filters, they turn into a thick, dense mass, and the constant high temperature prevents the product from curdling or excessively hardening. After processing, the oil is poured into molds and transported for sale.
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Effects on cardiac function
Theobroma is translated from Latin as “food of the gods”. Cocoa butter contains a high concentration of theobromines, insoluble crystals that are beneficial to the human body. Even in ancient times, before the beginning of the Christian era, our ancestors used theobromines to treat bronchial pathologies. Today, theobromine is widely used in the pharmaceutical industry and is even added to toothpaste. The component prevents the formation of blood clots, protects the cardiovascular system and the brain from spasms, and has a diuretic effect.
Our ancestors loved to combine cocoa with chili peppers (rather than white sugar, as is common today) and use the resulting mixture as a cure for infectious and bacteriological diseases. Another popular medicinal component is cottonseed oil. Forty centuries ago, it was mixed with cocoa butter and treated for every known ailment, from skin disorders to complex gastrointestinal pathologies.
When the level of endorphin is low, a person feels deeply unhappy and feels unjustified depression at the level of physiology.
Cocoa butter increases the level of endorphins, elevates the spirit and mood, saves from depressive conditions, excitement and anxiety. An invigorating coffee has a similar effect on a person. However, the negative effects of excessive coffee consumption are much greater than the positive effects. Moreover, the dose of caffeine in cocoa does not exceed 0.2%, which is a significant advantage both for the nervous system and for the physiological state in general.
Strengthening the immune system, vision, other organs
Although raw grains contain a high concentration of antioxidants / beneficial elements, processed oil also carries the lion's share of vital substances. The product captivates not only with its tart astringent taste, which consists of several bright notes that gradually replace each other. A more significant benefit of the oil is considered:
- strengthening the protective function of the immune system;
- “cleansing” and restoration of the dermis;
- normalization of the work of the organs of vision.
Mesoamerican peoples used cocoa beans as currency. This shows how valuable and significant product our ancestors considered the chocolate tree.
Normalization of acid-base balance
Acid-base balance affects human health. A characteristic of this balance is the pH - pH:
- 7.0 - this is a neutral environment;
- from 0 to 6.9 – acidic environment;
- from 7.1 to 14.0 - alkaline medium.
Studies show that most people have an acidic pH.
To find out your level of acid-base balance, you can consult a doctor or take a special test at home (available at a pharmacy).
Why is shifting to the acid side dangerous? According to the German biochemist and Nobel laureate Otto Warburg, diseases develop only in an acidic organism, and it is such an organism that is most susceptible to harmful pathological conditions.
An excess of acid, just like a deficiency, provokes diseases. You can restore the acid-base balance with the help of special therapy. However, such treatment brings only a short-term result and fights the symptoms, not the cause of the imbalance. To normalize the pH level, you need to follow only 3 rules: eat right, drink filtered water, avoid stress.
Cocoa (and its products) is categorized as an oxidizing product. They should make up no more than 40% of the daily diet. If the balance is already shifted to the acid side, then the level of oxidizing products should not exceed 20%.
If you have problems with pH, do not get carried away with cocoa products and be sure to get a doctor's examination. The specialist will give basic nutritional recommendations and set the allowable dosages of each food component.
Cocoa butter extract is used to make suppositories. These are laxatives and analgesic suppositories for topical use. The extract is also used in skin regeneration products: it helps the dermis recover faster and creates a special film that prevents pathogenic microflora from developing.
The product is used to treat:
- skin infections;
- excessive dryness of the skin and mucous membranes;
- pathologies of the respiratory organs;
- regulation of the level of cholesterol in the blood (due to fatty acids).
Use in cosmetology
The degree of medicinal effect of the oil is somewhere in the middle between unrefined grains and cocoa powder. Aromatic vegetable fat, in addition to medical and culinary characteristics, is also used in cosmetology. The product improves blood circulation, accelerates the regeneration of the dermis, promotes its deep nutrition and saturation.
However, cocoa butter's broad spectrum of activity is not for everyone. Let's start with the concept of comedogenicity.
Comedogenicity is the degree to which a cosmetic product affects the skin. It shows how much one or another product can pollute, clog pores, preventing the removal of toxins and harmful substances through the skin.
Dermatologist James E. Fulton created a special list in which he added food products according to the degree of comedogenicity. In the first positions (i.e. among the most comedogenic components) was cocoa butter. The product can provoke the so-called cosmetic acne in owners of oily or combination skin prone to rashes.
What you need to know about using oil in care products:
- The product can only be used in cosmetics intended for dry and normal skin.
- People with oily/combination skin can use it on their face or hair.
- Patients with acne are prohibited from using herbal products for care. The therapeutic course provides for special cosmetics and a set of procedures for the duration of treatment.
- Buy already diluted cosmetic products with a full complex of care. Pure cocoa butter can overly clog pores and worsen your current skin condition.
- If you experience an adverse reaction (rash, pain, dizziness, fever), stop using cocoa products and consult a dermatologist.
- Always pay attention to the ingredients. The further a comedogenic product is on the ingredients list, the lower its ability to clog pores and worsen the current condition of the dermis.
Cocoa butter is used to make the most beloved and best-selling sweet in the world - chocolate. The butter is melted in a water bath, mixed with carob / sugar / honey / cocoa powder / nuts / spices / vanilla / dried fruits and packaged in colorful packaging to attract buyers.
When choosing chocolate, be sure to check the composition. Unscrupulous manufacturers often replace cocoa butter with cheaper ingredients like carcinogenic fat or other substitute substances. In high-quality, real chocolate, cocoa butter should be in one of the first positions in the composition.
The product is suitable for the role of an ideal confectionery fat: biscuits, cakes, puff pastries and many other joys are prepared on its basis. In salty/spicy dishes, cocoa butter is not a frequent guest. The smell, texture and properties of the product are suitable exclusively for the confectionery industry.
How to choose an ingredient
Choose the least processed oil that retains the maximum concentration of nutrients. Just look at the composition: the fewer ingredients, the more valuable and better the product. The cost of cocoa is slightly higher than traditional margarine or regular butter. Do not save money, but choose the highest quality and useful product.
The color of the oil should be creamy yellow, and the smell should be bright, rich, with a slight tart note. Oil can be stored both in the refrigerator and on ordinary store shelves. The method of storage depends on the manufacturer and the container / container chosen by him.
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