Cocoa

Discover all the benefits of Cocoa Butter

TYPE OF PLANT: Always Green - Cocoa

ORIGIN: South America

USES: Moisturizing, Anti Aging, Anti Inflammatory, Anti Stretch Marks

History

Theobroma cacao, also called the cocoa tree and cocoa tree, is a small evergreen tree (4–8 m (13–26 ft)) of the Malvaceae family, native to the deep tropical regions of Mesoamerica. Its seeds, cocoa beans, are used to make chocolate liqueurs, cocoa solids, cocoa butter and chocolate. The largest producer of cocoa beans in 2018 was the Ivory Coast, with 37% of the world total.

The leaves are alternating, whole, not smooth, 10–40 cm (3.9–15.7 in) long and 5–20 cm (2.0–7.9 in) wide.

The flowers are produced in clusters directly on the trunk and on the older branches; this is known as cauliflower. The flowers are small, 1–2 cm (0.39-0.79 inch) in diameter, with a pink calyx. The floral formula, used to represent the structure of a flower using numbers, is ✶ K5 C5 A (5 ° + 5²) G (5). While many of the world's flowers are pollinated by bees (hymenoptera) or butterflies / moths (lepidoptera), cocoa flowers are pollinated by small flies, the Forcipomyia midges in the Forcipomyiinae subfamily. The use of the natural pollinator of forchipomy flies for Theobroma cacao has been shown to produce more fruit than the artificial pollinator. The fruit, called the cocoa pod, is ovoid, 15-30 cm (5.9-11.8 in) long and 8-10 cm (3.1-3.9 in) wide, ripening yellow to orange and weighs about 500 g (1.1 lbs) ripe. The pod contains 20 to 60 seeds, generally called "beans", embedded in a white pulp. Seeds are the main ingredient in chocolate, while the pulp is used in some countries to prepare refreshing juice, smoothies, jelly and cream. Usually discarded until practices changed in the 21st century, the fermented pulp can be distilled into an alcoholic beverage. Each seed contains a significant amount of fat (40-50%) such as cocoa butter. The active constituent of the fruit is the stimulant theobromine, a compound similar to caffeine.

Uses in history

Based on historical reconstructions, it seems that the Maya were the discoverers and the first growers of cocoa; according to an Aztec legend, the plant was donated by the god Quetzalcoatl to relieve human beings from fatigue. Europeans discovered cocoa beans when Christopher Columbus received them as a gift, during his fourth voyage, to the island of Guanaja.[7] In the Aztec civilization they were considered a luxury item, and were imported due to the fact that the plant did not grow on the territory of the empire.

The consumption of cocoa was a prerogative of the upper classes (nobles, warriors and priests), and represented one of the cornerstones of Aztec cuisine. Cocoa beans were so precious that they were also used as money. Hence the first name of cocoa (Amygdalae pecuniariae or almond of money) later replaced by Linnaeus in Theobroma cacao or food of the gods. The sources of the time also tell of frequent counterfeits carried out by filling the empty shells with dirt or mud. Just from the Aztec term in the Nahuatl language xocoatl comes the word "chocolate".

Benefits and Uses

Moisturizing

Cocoa butter is a powerful natural moisturizer that melts just above room temperature. It is rich in fatty acids that penetrate the skin and promote its health and softness.

Emollient

Thanks to its composition rich in fatty acids, cocoa butter has remarkable emollient, nourishing and protective properties for the skin and, for this reason, it is widely used in the cosmetic field.  

Anti-Age

Cocoa butter is rich in antioxidants including oleic acid, palmitic acid and stearic acid. These fatty acids are beneficial for the skin as they form a protective layer from external agents but also counteract the free radicals responsible for cellular aging.

Anti-inflammatory

Cocoa butter is also anti-inflammatory and this is another useful feature for the skin to better resist bad weather and the passage of time.

Anti Stretch Marks

Many people use cocoa butter, in the form of specific creams, also to prevent stretch marks

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