In recent years, research has highlighted the range of health benefits associated with dark chocolate, primarily as a result of cocoa flavanols.
This has made the chocolate incredibly popular, yet much of the research was done on flavanol-enriched dark chocolate, which we don’t typically find on grocery store shelves.
CocoaVia offers a potential way around this issue by providing a product that is rich in those very flavanols. At the same time, CocoaVia reviews suggest that some people do see health benefits and others find it a better option than chocolate.
So, is this truly the case?
What is CocoaVia?
CocoaVia is a specific brand of cocoa that is produced with a strong emphasis on potential health benefits. The company primarily focuses on cocoa stick packets, which can be mixed into water, beverages and even food.
There are also capsules and these basically act as cocoa supplements. All of the options (particularly the capsules) act as an easy and convenient way to get cocoa flavanols into your diet.
There are three different flavors for the stick packets, which are unsweetened dark chocolate, sweetened dark chocolate and cran-raspberry.
In all cases, the idea is that the products have a higher-than-normal potential for health benefits, due to the plant-based compounds present.
Additionally, some of the products are good options for people who don’t want the calories involved in eating chocolate regularly.
The products are also vegan, making them an interesting option for health and an alternative to dairy free chocolate.
The CocoaVia selection can be purchased from the website of the company or from Amazon.
For the most part, the items are more expensive than regular cocoa or dark chocolate. Nevertheless, the potential health benefits may be worth the extra cost.Which brings me to the main questions of the day.
What health benefits does CocoaVia offer and are the products worth the cost?
Those two questions are the focus of this post and to answer them, we’re going to consider what CocoaVia contains and also what the CocoaVia reviews have to say.
CocoaVia also produces Goodness Knows Snack Squares, which are an interesting protein-based snack. They're not as healthy as the other CocoaVia products. But, they do still provide 100 mg of cocoa flavanols per serving.
Health Benefits of CocoaVia
The key idea of the brand is to take advantage of health benefits that have been connected to both cocoa and dark chocolate. Some of those benefits include the potential to promote heart health (1,2,3,4), increase brain function (5,6,7,8), improve mood (9), decrease stress (10,11) and help decrease disease risk (12,13).
Most of the observed advantages of cocoa (and thus, dark chocolate) have been linked to the plant-based compounds present. This includes a class of compounds called flavanols (14) and one particular class of flavanols, known as polyphenols (15).
However, actually getting those health benefits isn’t as easy as it sounds.
Instead, most of the studies into this area have involved cocoa or chocolate with artificially high levels of flavanols. As a result, the cocoa that we consume on a regular basis mightn’t offer the same health benefits that research has highlighted.
This is where CocoaVia comes in.
The brand attempts to provide more benefits by increasing the level of flavanols.
Specifically, CocoaVia offers 375 mg of cocoa flavanols per serving of cocoa and 125 mg per serving of their supplements (which are basically capsules of cocoa).
These levels are higher than traditional cocoa and more than what most dark chocolate brands offer as well.
CocoaVia uses a system called Cocoapro to ensure the flavanol content remains high in all of their cocoa-based products. CocoaVia states that this helps preserve flavanols that would normally be lost during processing.
Theoretically, that does mean that the health benefits of CocoaVia would also be more significant than many other brands of cocoa and dark chocolate.
Still, CocoaVia isn’t simply an enhanced version of cocoa. Instead, there are other complexities to consider as well.
Additionally, most brands don’t actively measure or standardize their levels of flavanols. As a result, it’s impossible to be certain precisely how CocoaVia stacks up against its competitors.
There may well be some brands that contain similar levels of flavanols. However, few companies specifically focus on this area.
Theoretically, CocoaVia may offer the same benefits as high flavanol cocoa and dark chocolate, such as promoting heart health, brain function and decreasing disease risk
CocoaVia and Epicatechin
One other aspect of CocoaVia's products is epicatechin. This is a strong plant-based antioxidant and may play a key role in the health benefits of CocoaVia. A standard 375 mg of CocoaVia contains around 80 mg of (-)epictachin (which is the biologically active form).
For example, an article by Examine talked about the way that epicatechin can help promote muscle growth. Likewise, Predator Nutrition talks about the implications for other aspects of physical performance and health.
It's clear that there are many benefits of CocoaVia. Indeed, CocoaVia passed external testing through the site Consumer Lab. The tests were conducted on the vegetable capsule from CocoaVia, along with the dark chocolate variation.
In both cases, the products had considerably more flavanols than you would normally find in cocoa or dark chocolate. But, the flavanols are only one consideration. We still have to look at the other options on the market.
CocoaVia vs Cocoa
The biggest difference between CocoaVia and cocoa is in the flavanol content. After all, this is the primary purpose of the product and CocoaVia is likely to offer more flavanols than most other brands.
To achieve that outcome, there are some other differences too. CocoaVia explains it like this:
So, CocoaVia doesn’t use cocoa directly. Instead, the cocoa powder ingredients make use of a cocoa bean extract.
Extracts are commonly used with herbal supplements (and even chocolate supplements) and they typically focus on some of the healthy compounds in a plant, rather than the whole thing. This tends to mean that you get more of the most beneficial compounds.
However, an extract may not contain as much (or any) of the related compounds that are thought to contribute to health.
This is somewhat challenging because plants are complex and contain a large range of different components. In most cases, we don’t fully know which chemicals are contributing to health benefits.
Indeed, with cocoa, some of the observed health benefits may not be connected to the flavanols. For example, studies have shown that improved cognition can occur with cocoa but that the flavanol content did not appear to influence this outcome (16,17).
For that matter, milk chocolate has even been linked to some health benefits, even though it contains fewer flavanols than dark chocolate.
This pattern means that CocoaVia may be a better source of flavanols and may offer more health benefits than traditional cocoa. But, the product isn’t cocoa in the normal sense. As a result, it may not have the same advantages in all areas.
Now, maltodextrin is probably safe as long as you don’t consume an excessive amount. Still, this is something to consider, especially as it’s an ingredient you might not expect in cocoa.
Likewise, some CocoaVia reviews express concern about this additive. If nothing else, it acts as an extra source of carbs and is an ingredient that isn't going to offer health benefits.
Not surprisingly, the flavored versions of CocoaVia contain more ingredients. For example, this is the list for the sweetened dark chocolate option. Again, these ingredients may not be a problem for many people but it is important to be aware of them.
Even with these ingredients CocoaVia is still a powerful source of flavanols. It can be an effective way to supplement flavanols. In contrast, most other products would involve many more calories for the same flavanol levels.
You can also find out more about the various components and the implications of CocoaVia by visiting the CocoaVia website itself. In particular, their FAQ offers useful information and additional details that aren't covered here.
CocoaVia mainly relies on a cocoa extract rather than cocoa itself. This is a key reason for the higher flavanol levels but could decrease the amount of other healthy compounds
CocoaVia vs Other Brands
Because CocoaVia is focused on health benefits, the production methods used are specifically designed to maintain the flavanols as much as possible.
At the same time, the company claims that many traditional processing approaches compromise the flavanol concentration. They argue that this makes CocoaVia one of the best options for health, particularly when compared to regular chocolate.
This claim may be true but it is also simplistic.
For one thing, there are other brands that focus on high flavanol content. This is true for cocoa and also for chocolate. Indeed, much of the research into cocoa flavanols and health has focused on flavanol-rich chocolate (19).
As such, it’s clear that there is the potential to get similar benefits from other brands as well, especially those that also focus on maximizing the plant-based compounds.
Finally, there has been much more research into dark chocolate health benefits than the health outcomes from cocoa.
It’s reasonable to assume that many of the observed benefits with dark chocolate are connected to cocoa but some may not be. This suggests that flavanol-rich chocolate could potentially offer more benefits than what CocoaVia offers.
CocoaVia isn't the only option out there and high-flavanol chocolate could offer more benefits still.
For the most part, we've been focusing on the cocoa version of CocoaVia. But, there are also capsules, which act as supplements.
With these, you have access to all of the same benefits, including the same level of flavanols. The style also makes them easier to consume, especially if you don't like the bitterness of dark chocolate.
For that matter, the capsules are simply a convenient addition to any diet - acting as the easiest way to get your cocoa flavanols.
CocoaVia capsules are an alternative approach and have significant advantages
The Debate About Alkalized Cocoa
One unusual thing about CocoaVia is that some of their products use cocoa that has been processed with alkali.
This type of processing is often used, particularly in the creation of chocolate. However, it’s thought to be bad for the healthy compounds and can potentially decrease the benefits of cocoa and chocolate (20,21).
So, why does CocoaVia do this? Well, their explanation basically comes down to taste.
And actually, this makes sense. Most of the health benefits from CocoaVia aren’t supposed to come from the cocoa. Instead, they are associated with the cocoa extract.
Cocoa itself is only included in some flavors and seems to be entirely there to give the product a good taste. With that in mind, the use of alkali probably doesn’t make much of a difference to health in this particular case.
CocoaVia relies on alkalized cocoa for flavor and this choice shouldn't affect potential health benefits
Does CocoaVia Really Work?
As I mentioned before, there are a large number of health benefits associated with cocoa and with dark chocolate.
Theoretically, CocoaVia offers many of these benefits. In particular, it can potentially provide more benefits than the typical cocoa and dark chocolate we find in grocery stores.
As the company notes, you would have to consume a fairly high amount of dark chocolate to get the same levels of flavanols. In doing so, you’d consume more calories, which isn’t necessarily good for health.
However, there is little research into CocoaVia specifically – and the product is an extract rather than actual cocoa.
As a result, it isn’t clear what benefits the cocoa truly offers.
The company itself claims that CocoaVia promotes ‘healthy blood flow from head to toe’.
But, even then, that statement is based on research into the specific flavanols, rather than CocoaVia itself.
The brand may still be a good option for getting cocoa flavanols and potentially obtaining health benefits. But, even so, it’s worth remembering that there is little scientific evidence about the advantages of this specific product.
There is no shortage of research that illustrates cocoa benefits, suggesting that CocoaVia may also be extremely healthy. Nevertheless, few studies have been conducted on CocoaVia itself
There are many different CocoaVia products available on Amazon and this is a good place to look at the CocoaVia reviews and see what individual people have to say.
For the most part, CocoaVia reviews tend to be positive. Some reviewers focus on specific health benefits, such as improvements to cholesterol and memory. You can see this by looking at the discussions on Amazon.
Many of these benefits are associated with cocoa flavanols, so they aren’t too surprising. Still, not everybody finds health benefits. Instead, some CocoaVia reviews suggest that there were no significant impacts on health.
Other CocoaVia reviews focused on the idea of the product being healthy or what they expected from it, rather than any outcomes they experienced themselves.
However, one consistent comment relates to the flavor. Many people found that the product tends to be very bitter and it can be hard to figure out a good way to take it.
You might be able to get around that issue by choosing the sweetened flavor or preparing it with other ingredients (like honey or another sweetener).
Nevertheless, that bitterness is to be expected.
After all, the unsweetened flavor is basically dark cocoa and this does tend to be bitter. The same thing is true for dark chocolate and chocolate gets increasingly bitter as you go up in cocoa percentage.
The bitterness may also be a bigger issue for some people than for others. For example, if you regularly eat dark chocolate that’s above 80% cocoa, you probably already have some tolerance for this type of flavor.
In contrast, people who are used to milk chocolate may find the bitterness to be extremely challenging.
Finally, there are also some people who experienced side effects from CocoaVia. Relatively few reviews mentioned this issue, which suggests that side effects aren't common.
This is something to be aware of, especially as CocoaVia can take some time to get used to. But, even so, the positive reviews suggest that the product is often a good choice.
CocoaVia reviews are mostly positive, although many people struggle with the bitter flavor
Where to Buy CocoaVia
If you want to try CocoaVia for yourself, there are multiple places to turn. The first is the company itself, which allows you to buy the products directly from their site.
CocoaVia is also fairly mainstream. So, you might find the products at local health food stores or places like Walgreens and Kroger. In those stores, CocoaVia is typically with other supplements. The company even offers a store locator to help you find local sources.
Nevertheless, my personal preference is through Amazon. For one thing, Amazon is much more convenient, plus you know exactly what they provide without having to go anywhere. In contrast, local stores may be out of stock or may not have the full range.
Amazon is often more competitive as well and tends to favor the customer. This may make it a more reliable choice, especially if you're a customer already or a member of Amazon Prime.
What is CocoaVia Good For?
CocoaVia is specifically designed to offer the health benefits of cocoa and dark chocolate, and it may do just that.
The logic behind CocoaVia is sound, especially as there are relatively few other companies that focus on providing high levels of cocoa flavanols. Likewise, there is considerable evidence that cocoa flavanols are associated with health benefits.
Nevertheless, CocoaVia products may not be for everybody and they aren’t going to be enjoyable as eating actual chocolate.
At the same time, actual outcomes are going to vary.
This is true for any product that offers health benefits. Realistically, people are different from another, including variations in our diets, lifestyles and in the specific chemical concentrations within our bodies.
This may be why some of the CocoaVia reviews highlighted amazing benefits, while others found none at all.
There is no way to accurately predict whether or not you would see benefits from CocoaVia products or from cocoa itself. Still, if you’re trying to improve your health, then this is certainly one direction to consider.
What do you think? Would you turn to this type of product or would you rather just stick to dark chocolate?
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