Theobroma cacao, also called the cacao tree or the cocoa tree is a small evergreen tree belonging to Malvaceae family, native to the deep tropical regions of the Americas. In India, it is mainly cultivated in Karnataka, Kerala and Tamil Nadu mainly as intercrop with Arecanut and Coconut.
Cocoa is one of the richest sources of polyphenols. It’s especially abundant in flavanols, which have potent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects. Cocoa, both in powdered form and in the form of dark chocolate, may be able to help lower blood pressure. Flavanol-rich cocoa improves the level of nitric oxide in your blood, which relaxes and dilates your arteries and blood vessels and improve blood flow thus reducing risk of heart attack and stroke. In addition to cocoa’s positive impact on age related mental degeneration, its effect on the brain may also improve mood and symptoms of depression. Though overconsumption of chocolate is certainly not good for blood sugar control, cocoa does, in fact, have some anti-diabetic effects.
As pelletised dry 100% cocoa pod husk, it can be used as an animal feed. In the preparation of soft drinks, fresh cocoa pulp juice is collected, sterilised and bottled. For the production of alcoholic drinks, such as brandy, the fresh juice is boiled, cooled and fermented with yeast. Alcohol is distilled after 4 days. Cocoa bean shells can be used as an organic mulch and soil conditioner for the garden. Cocoa butter is used in the manufacturing of chocolate. It is widely used in cosmetic products such as moisturising creams and soaps.