People usually believe that cocoa is an unhealthy substance.

However, this is not true because it has several properties which are beneficial to health.

It helps to prevent some diseases and even reduces the symptoms of various diseases.

Cocoa powder is extracted from the cocoa beans.

It can be consumed in various forms, the most common one being chocolates.

Chocolate is considered bad for health because of the high sugar and fat content, not because of the cocoa.

What is Arthritis?

It is very common to see people of all ages suffering from joint pain these days. This condition is known as arthritis.

Patients of arthritis experience swelling of the joints, which causes a lot of pain.

Arthritis is a disorder which can be of various types, depending upon the type of joint affected and the cause of the disorder.

The various effects on cocoa have been studied on people with arthritis. These studies reveal that cocoa can be beneficial for treating the various forms arthritis.

What is Cocoa?

The cocoa bean is the seed of the cacao tree. This seed is completely dried and fermented which can be further roasted and ground to form cocoa powder.

Along with this, cocoa butter is also extracted from the cocoa solids. This butter is used to make chocolates, medicines and other cosmetic products as well.

Cocoa is used throughout the world for various purposes including healthcare and food.

The powder is a very good source of nutrients such as carbohydrates, saturated fats, fibre, protein, vitamins, and minerals.

There are many other substances and properties present in cocoa which are very beneficial for our health.

These help in the treatment of various health conditions and diseases. They help to maintain good health and well-being in general.

It contains a high amount of antioxidants which are responsible for neuroprotection (protection against the degeneration of the central nervous system).

They also improve the functioning of the brain and enhance memory, intelligence and a positive mood.

Cocoa aids in weight loss by increasing the production of energy-releasing molecules known as ATP which leads to burning of the stored fats.

It also helps in reducing inflammation or swelling. [1]

According to recent studies, cocoa prevents and delays aging.

It also reduces the risk of heart conditions such as atherosclerosis and regulates blood pressure.

Earlier, people used to believe it to be unhealthy for heart, but studies have found that it is not so if consumed in a balanced way. [2]

8 Proven Benefits of Cocoa For Arthritis

Here are beneficial properties of cocoa that can help in arthritis

1. Cocoa Improves the Immune System

Cocoa plays a role in influencing the immune system.

The immune system is responsible for protecting the body from foreign particles which may harm the body.

It affects the immunoglobulin, which are antibodies responsible for killing antigens which enter the body.

Imbalance in the number of T cells of the immune system may lead to rheumatic diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis.

Cocoa regulates and inhibits these T cells, which helps to control the disease.

Cocoa contains flavonoids. These decrease the number of TNF alpha molecules. Tumour necrosis factor-alpha is a type of cytokine which causes the death of cells.

Autoimmune diseases are those in which the immune system starts to attack the body’s own cells.

TNF alpha molecules are responsible for this and so decreasing their number would help to control the disease. [3]

A study found that a cocoa-enriched diet was helpful in reducing the symptoms of arthritis.

Cocoa modulates the immune cells which are responsible for causing collagen-induced arthritis.

This property of cocoa is due to its flavonols which also reduce the number of reactive oxygen species and act as antioxidants. [4]

Another study on an animal model of arthritis came to the conclusion that cocoa shows anti-inflammatory properties and can be used in the treatment of arthritis.

It regulates the autoimmune responses and acts on the lymphocytes to prevent the symptoms of this disorder. [5]

A reduction in the activity of the immune system is essential for controlling inflammation in autoimmune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis.

What does this Mean? Cocoa helps in reducing the immune activity which reduces the symptoms of arthritis such as inflammation and degeneration of cells of the affected joints.

2. Cocoa Reduces Inflammation

The main symptom of any form of arthritis is inflammation. The joints swell, and this inflammation is usually chronic.

Studies have found that cocoa shows an anti-inflammatory effect on consumption.

Compounds known as flavanol are present in cocoa in the form of substances such as catechins and epicatechins.

They are plant metabolites and also antioxidants. They decrease the production of cytokines in the body, which in turn reduces the inflammation.

Reactive oxygen regulates autoimmune inflammatory disorders such as rheumatoid arthritis.

Antioxidants prevent any further damage to the cells of joints in case of arthritis along with decreasing inflammation. [6]

This is useful in treating chronic swelling and pain in the joints.

What does this Mean? Cocoa plays a role in decreasing the chronic inflammation by supressing the cytokine production which may cure arthritis.

3. Cocoa has Anti-Depressant Properties

Depression is a disorder of the brain characterized by a continuous feeling of being sad and loss of interest in daily activities.

It is a serious condition which should be taken care of immediately.

People with arthritis are very likely to suffer from depression due to chronic pain and inability to do daily physical activities.

Cocoa has found to contain polyphenols including flavonoids which improve the mood.

Studies have found that cocoa reduces stress levels and shows a calming effect.

This can help to decrease the anxiety and depression among people suffering from arthritis.[7]

It increases the energy as well as the concentration levels, which decreases stress thereby eliminating depression. [8]

What does this Mean? Cocoa improves the mood and cures depression by decreasing the stress levels and releasing positive hormones.

4. Cocoa Helps in Weight Loss

The catechins present in cocoa have another important use. They lead to a significant reduction in body weight. They basically decrease fat from the body.

Cocoa prevents obesity by lowering the number of lipid or fat molecules.

It does so by regulating and increasing the lipid metabolism (the breakdown of fat molecules by the body).

Along with this, it does not allow the body to synthesize the lipid molecules after a certain amount and it also prevents the transfer and storage of fats in the body.

Cocoa burns a high amount of fat which is stored in the tissues. All these mechanisms are controlled through the expression of genes and lead to a reduction in body weight. [9]

What does this Mean? Cocoa causes a decrease in the body weight. Lower body weight decreases the stress on the joints, reducing the inflammation and pain.

5. Cocoa Reduces Fatigue

Polyphenols are rich in antioxidants. They include flavonoids and phenolic acids, which are naturally present in plant products.

The polyphenols present in cocoa can improve the symptoms of chronic fatigue.

This is helpful in the case of arthritis because it is very common for people with arthritis to feel weak and tired all the times.

This may be primarily due to the continuous pain and disability of the joints. [10]

What does this Mean? Cocoa contains polyphenols which elevates the energy levels and reduce the feeling of weakness and fatigue.

6. Cocoa Helps in Bone Regeneration

Antioxidants have been studied to show a positive effect on the bone tissues.

It improves the metabolism of the bone cells which increases the production of the tissue, further repairing the bone loss.

This property of flavonoids is useful in people suffering from osteoarthritis.

Osteoarthritis is one of the most common types of arthritis which involves inflammation of the bones of various joints of the body.

This causes the bones to degenerate due to friction caused by continuous wearing down of those bones.

What does this Mean? In diseases such as osteoarthritis, bone degeneration from the joints is a common symptom. Cocoa is rich in minerals and antioxidants which prevent this and restore the bone density.

7. Cocoa is Rich in Antioxidants

The polyphenols of cocoa are a rich source of antioxidants.[11] Antioxidants are molecular substances which prevent the formation of reactive oxygen species.

These act as free radicals and damage various organs of the body, including the bones and immune system.

This has a direct effect on those suffering from rheumatoid arthritis by inducing inflammation of the joints. [12]

Cocoa can be included in the daily diet to inhibit free radical formation and oxidative stress. [13]

What does this Mean? Excessive free radical formation can lead to oxidative stress. This enhances the symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis such as inflammation of the joints. Polyphenols of cocoa can treat the reactive oxygen species due to its antioxidants.

8. Cocoa Protects the Heart

Inflammation in arthritis can trigger heart risks. People who suffer from rheumatoid arthritis are at a high risk of developing cardiovascular disease. [14]

This can be prevented by regular intake of cocoa.

The antioxidants of cocoa show a protective effect on heart health.

A flavonol rich diet can be very healthy and may prevent the risk of cardiovascular disease.

Cocoa is rich in flavan-3-ols which have been found to be particularly beneficial in preventing the risk of any heart disease. [15]

Cocoa can be consumed in the form of high-flavonol chocolates for best results. [16]

What does this Mean? Rheumatoid arthritis can affect the heart and cause cardiovascular diseases. Cocoa consumption can prevent the adverse effects of arthritis on the heart.

Dosage of Cocoa For Arthritis

Moderate levels of cocoa should be consumed for it to be effective. Everything becomes unfit for health if taken in excessive amounts. Same goes for cocoa.

Since it contains caffeine, high consumption of cocoa can be harmful to the body.

The most important criteria while deciding the amount of cocoa to be consumed on a regular basis should be the sugar and fat content.

It should be seen that their levels are low in order to prevent the risk of diseases.

This is the reason why a small quantity of dark and unsweetened chocolate is much better than milk chocolates.

Dark chocolate contains more cocoa and less sugar and unhealthy fats hence the amount of flavonoids is more.

This makes it healthy and more beneficial for treating various health conditions. [17]

Precautions

There are a number of side effects associated with the drugs present in cocoa.

Caffeine is a compound which comes under methyxanthines. Methylxanthines can pose as a risk factor for several health conditions.

Studies have found that it increases the risk of heart diseases such as coronary heart disease, stiffness of the arteries, hypertension and may increase the cholesterol levels as well. [18]

If experiencing bleeding disorders or on anti-platelet medications, limit cocoa intake as it is a natural blood thinner.

Limit cocoa intake during pregnancy and lactation. [19]

Conclusion

Cocoa contains many substances which can be very helpful in treating and preventing various health disorders.

Cocoa can be used to help with arthritis symptoms.

It efficiently reduces inflammation which prevents further progression of the disease and it improves the mood and mental health.

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