Health Benefits of Cocoa Butter

Cocoa butter, also called theobroma oil, is a light-yellow vegetable fat that comes from cocoa beans. Producers ferment, dry, roast, strip, and press cocoa beans to extract cocoa butter.

Cocoa beans are grown in tropical regions around the equator — hot, humid climates are well suited for growing cocoa trees. Most of the world’s cocoa beans come from the West African countries Ghana, Nigeria, Cameroon, and Ivory Coast. 

Cocoa butter is versatile. Not only is it a required ingredient in US-produced chocolate, but it’s also a popular ingredient in skin creams, lotions, lip balms, and dessert recipes. 

Health Benefits

Get Vitamin E

Cocoa butter is a decent source of vitamin E, which benefits your body in many ways. Vitamin E supports vision, reproduction, and the health of your brain, skin, and blood. 

Keep Your Skin Moisturized

Cocoa butter contains a high amount of fatty acids, which make it well-suited as a primary ingredient in skin cream. Fatty acids help to hydrate the skin. The fat in cocoa butter creates a protective barrier that holds in moisture and prevents your skin from drying.

Skin Healing Properties

Cocoa butter is a primary component of many topical treatments for conditions like eczema and dermatitis. The rich moisture content and protective oil-based nature of cocoa butter eases itching and allows the skin to heal after a flare-up. 

Protect Against Sun Damage

Exposure to UV radiation can cause changes in skin texture, damage skin cells, and even increase risk of skin cancer. The phytochemicals in cocoa butter may protect against skin damage from harmful UV rays and lower your risk of skin disease.

Healthier Cholesterol Levels

High cholesterol is a risk factor for conditions like heart disease. Cocoa butter can help manage this risk factor and reduce your chances of having a heart attack. Cocoa butter contains stearic acid, which your liver can convert to a monounsaturated fat called oleic acid. Oleic acid lowers levels of bad (LDL) cholesterol and boosts levels of good (HDL) cholesterol.

Reduced Liver Disease Symptoms

Some forms of liver disease are caused by a choline deficiency. Cocoa butter contains choline, so consuming it can help reduce the risk or manage symptoms of liver disease.

Improved Bone Health

Cocoa butter contains small amounts of vitamin K. Vitamin K helps your body build and maintain bones.

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Nutrition

Cocoa butter contains heart-healthy oleic acid, as well as small amounts of nutrients such as:

Nutrients per Serving

One tablespoon of cocoa butter contains:

Things to Watch Out For

Like all oils, cocoa is a calorie-dense ingredient. Be sure to use cocoa butter sparingly, especially if you’re looking to reduce your calorie intake.

How to Use Cocoa Butter

Cocoa butter has a slight chocolate flavor and scent. You can use cocoa butter to make your own chocolate — the process is a bit complicated, but many home chefs enjoy making chocolate as a hobby. 

Since cocoa butter is an edible oil when melted, you can also use it in recipes that call for oil. Cocoa butter has a high smoke point, so it won’t burn easily at high temperatures. Given its chocolaty flavor, the oil is usually a better fit for sweet recipes.

When you substitute other oils with cocoa butter, it’s best to substitute only a portion of the oil. Cocoa butter will firm up the recipe a bit when you cook it. 

Here are a few other ways to use cocoa butter:

  • Use in chocolate chip cookie recipes.
  • Create edible lip balms and skin creams.
  • Use as a substitute for gelatin.
  • Use in vegan dessert recipes. 
WebMD Medical Reference Reviewed by Dan Brennan, MD on August 28, 2020

Sources

SOURCES:

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: “What Is Skin Cancer?”

Duke University: “Choline intake in a large cohort of patients with nonalcoholic fatty liver disease.”

ESHA Research, Inc., Salem, Oregon.

Journal of the American College of Nutrition: “Changes in LDL Fatty Acid Composition as a Response to Olive Oil Treatment Are Inversely Related to Lipid Oxidative Damage: The EUROLIVE Study.”

Mayo Clinic: “Vitamin E.”

National Confectioners Association: “Types of Chocolate.”

Nutrients: “Cocoa Bioactive Compounds: Significance and Potential for the Maintenance of Skin Health.”

Oregon State University: “Essential Fatty Acids and Skin Health.”

Scientific American, Knowable Magazine: “Searching for Chocolate’s Roots, and Enemies, in Colombia’s Wilderness.”

UC Berkeley School of Public Health: “Why You Need (and Might Need) Vitamin K.”

US Food and Drug Administration: “FDA Completes Review of Qualified Health Claim Petition for Oleic Acid and the Risk of Coronary Heart Disease.”

© 2020 WebMD, LLC. All rights reserved.

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