*Cocoa butter, also called theobroma oil, is a pale yellow, edible vegetable oil obtained from the cocoa beans of the cocoa tree, Theobroma cacao, of the family Malvaceae, native to the Central and South America.
*The fruits of this tree, also called pods, have 20-40 seeds or beans embedded in the sweet white pulp of the fruit. These seeds have a strong shell around them.
*Cocoa beans have a strong bitter taste. These beans are allowed to ferment in the pulp of their fruits for several days through a process called ‘sweating’, when the chocolate flavor is developed.
*These beans are then cleaned, dried, roasted and the shell removed to produce the cacao nibs rich in saturated fats.
*These nibs are then ground, when the fat (called cocoa butter) in the seeds melts and produces a liquid chocolate called chocolate liquor. This is pure liquid bitter chocolate.
*This chocolate liquor is then – solidified and sold as baking chocolate (unsweetened), the saturated fats removed as cocoa butter, and finally the remaining solids are powdered and sold as cocoa powder.
*Cocoa butter is mixed with varying amounts of cocoa powder to make different types of chocolates, it is also used to make perfumes, chocolate extract, soaps, pharmaceuticals, cosmetics, etc.
*Cocoa butter has a milder flavor and aroma.
*It has a smooth texture, sweet fragrance and has natural antioxidants.
*Buying and storage: It keeps well at room temperature for nearly 5 years. It has a high amount of natural antioxidants that give it stability and prevent rancidity. Store in a cool, dry, dark place.
Is it raw?
Yes and No.
*Yes, pure cocoa butter is pressed from the chocolate liquor obtained from the cocoa beans.
*No, the cocoa butter in various cosmetics, pharmaceuticals, etc is processed. Make sure you read the label.
1. Cocoa butter is rich in saturated and monounsaturated fats and some polyunsaturated fats.
2. The saturated fats present in cocoa butter, especially stearic acid has been shown to have no effect on the cholesterol levels in the blood (neither increase nor decrease), and thus maintain the blood cholesterol levels.
3. Oleic acid, the monounsaturated fat present in cocoa butter (same as in olive oil), lowers the LDL cholesterol and total cholesterol in blood and raises the HDL cholesterol.
4. The polyunsaturated fats present in cocoa butter, linoleic acid and alpha-linolenic acid are the essential fatty acids and are the precursors of prostaglandins, the hormone like substances that have a variety of functions in the human body like contraction and relaxation of smooth muscles, contraction and dilation of the blood vessels, control blood pressure, reducing pain and inflammation etc.
5. Alpha-linolenic acid, the omega-3 fatty acid, promotes a healthy heart, reduces hypertension, reduces the risk of autoimmune diseases and cancers, acts as a blood thinner and prevents the formation of clots and improves depression.
6. Omega fatty acids also burn the brown fat in the body, thus aiding in weight loss.
7. Moderate source of vitamin E, an antioxidant that helps in fighting against free radicals, maintains the integrity of cell membrane, and prevents cancer.
8. The antioxidants and flavonoids present have anti-cancer, anti-inflammatory and vasodilating properties.
9. Research indicated that theobromine, the alkaloid present in cocoa beans, may be effective in preventing persistent coughing, soothing and moistening the throat. It is shown to be more effective than codeine, the component in many cough medicines.
10. Cocoa butter melts easily at body temperature, so it is used in pharmaceutical industry in the preparation of suppositories, as they dissolve easily dispersing the drug.