Is Cocoa Butter Vegan
People who are looking to drop in weight are bombarded with all kinds of diets springing up all over the internet. If you’re not well versed in nutrition, which is often the case for the majority of people, untangling the jumble of information thrown at you might turn into quite an ordeal. Even if you’ve settled on a diet plan, figuring out which foods should or shouldn’t be a part of your daily menu can be a daunting task. In this article, you will find out what cocoa butter is. Is cocoa butter vegan?
The vegan diet is quite common today. More and more people muster up the determination to embark on this life-altering path. Numerous restrictions don’t scare them off and they seem to always find a way to load up on all the nutrients extracted from plant-based products to keep their organism in tip top shape. One thing that most vegans are on the same wavelength about is the constant confusion about whether certain products are vegan-friendly or not. In this article we’re covering a popular antioxidant-packed product – cocoa butter. Is it a dairy product and should you keep avoiding it? Keep on reading to find out.
The vegan diet: a short guide
As was mentioned before, nowadays there is a wide range of various diets in the weight loss world. Some of them are extremely restrictive and promise quick results, which are usually short-term. Other nutrition plans are more similar to a lifestyle change and provide you with numerous benefits, including weight loss. A vegan diet is gaining popularity due to its effectiveness and a bunch of health benefits that come along with it. Approximately 3% of the US population is vegan (4).
There are different reasons why people start following this meal plan. Some of them do it to protect the environment and animals. Others aim to slim down and improve their health status.
Vegans avoid all animal products such as meat and poultry, seafood, eggs, dairy, and even honey. Their diet includes only plant-based foods. It mainly consists of high amounts of fruits and vegetables, legumes, breads, whole grains, vegetable oils, nuts, and seeds (8). Dairy alternatives, such as almond milk, coconut milk, or soy milk, are popular as well (5). If followed in a proper way, this diet can bring a number of health benefits.
The vegan diet health benefits
Vegans have better heart health and much lower risk of heart disease. They are less prone to obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, abnormal cholesterol levels, and even certain cancers. This diet can help to prolong your life expectancy, especially if you decrease your daily calorie intake. The supporters of this diet also have a lower body mass index (BMI), than those who stick to a regular meal plan with animal products included.
The foods allowed by the vegan diet, provide them with all the essential nutrients. They are packed with antioxidants, fiber, vitamins, and other beneficial compounds. All of them support your health and help your body function properly.
The vegan diet health risks
Despite all the noted benefits, this diet isn’t devoid of health risks. Yes, you’ll get enough nutrients from fruits and veggies to keep you up and running, but animal source foods have animal protein, which is essential for your body. If you don’t eat animal products, you also don’t get the necessary amounts of calcium, zinc, omega-3 fatty acids and other nutrients. They are all vital for the health of your bones, teeth, and heart. That’s why it is important to understand how to replace them. For instance, you can find calcium in kale and almonds, or you can load up on protein by drinking soy milk and nibbling on nuts and seeds.
You shouldn’t also mistake a vegan diet for a vegetarian diet. Vegetarians don’t eat meat and seafood as well, but they consume dairy and eggs (9).
The main issue of such diets is that sometimes it is hard to understand what foods you can eat, and what foods you should steer clear of. So let’s get down to the nitty gritty and figure out whether cocoa butter is vegan or not.
Is cocoa butter vegan: the answer
The word “butter” confuses many people. They think that if it is butter, it automatically contains dairy. For this reason, vegans usually avoid cocoa butter and rob themselves of all the benefits this product can provide. But this is just a common misconception and nothing more.
The answer to the major question of this article is yes – cocoa butter is completely vegan-friendly. This is a dairy-free product, that you can safely add to your daily meal plan.
What is cocoa butter?
So, what is cocoa butter? Basically, it is a type of vegetable fat that is derived from cocoa beans, namely from their fatty part. The beans are fermented, dried, roasted, and pressed. The end result is a velvety block of cocoa butter. The manufacturers turn the remaining portion into cocoa powder (6). People mainly use cocoa butter for chocolate production. This is an ingredient that gives chocolate that melt-in-your mouth creaminess.
Cocoa beans grow where humidity, high air temperature, and heavy rainfall prevail. The majority of cocoa comes from Ghana and Ivory Coast (Africa). These countries produce approximately 70% of the world’s cocoa. Unfortunately, these countries are impoverished. The work of cocoa farmers is low-paid, dangerous, and exhausting. Such conditions caused a general shortage of cocoa farmers. This industry also demonstrates a high percentage of child labor. Luckily, you can enjoy cocoa butter and other cocoa products without contributing to the development of these issues. You should just buy products that are certified fair trade. That is how you’ll ensure that the farmers get their living wage and no child labor is used.
As you can see, the production of cocoa butter doesn’t involve animal ingredients and is completely safe for you, if you have decided to change your life and become a vegan.
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Cocoa butter benefits
Cocoa butter is one of the ingredients people use in the production of chocolate. It is packed with antioxidants, which are essential for your health (7). It also contains copper and magnesium and vitamins E and K in small amounts (6). Cocoa butter lowers blood pressure (and thus strengthens your heart health) and supports your immune system.
Cocoa butter is a rich source of healthy fats, that are full of polyphenol antioxidants. These compounds support your immune system and protect your body cells from damage (2). Remember that the more you process your cocoa butter, the more polyphenol antioxidants you lose. That’s why it is better to opt for raw butter.
But it is important to remember that cocoa butter is pure fat (3), and you should consume it in moderate amounts. If you eat it in high quantities, you’ll significantly increase your calorie intake, which is undesirable for your health and weight loss.
Many people use cocoa butter for cooking. You can add it to your desserts to give them a slight chocolaty taste. It also has a resistance to high temperatures, that’s why you can use it to cook your vegetables on a higher heat without being afraid to burn them.
Cocoa butter and the cosmetic industry
Apart from its nutritional benefits, cocoa butter is widely used in the cosmetic industry. It works as a perfect moisturizer and has the same effect as coconut oil. Antioxidants, that are found in cocoa butter, protect your skin from the sun damage and reduce inflammation (1).
Cocoa butter is also an effective remedy for dry hair. Its fats nourish and rejuvenate damaged hair. It is also beneficial for the scalp, especially if it is irritated. All you should do is melt it, mix with a moisturizing oil (coconut oil would be perfect), and apply this concoction on your hair. The result will definitely blow you away.
You can use it as a lip balm. The main advantage here is that this is an absolutely natural remedy, and you won’t damage your skin with various chemicals. But it is important to use pure cocoa butter, especially if you have sensitive skin.
What other butters can I consume?
If you stick to the vegan diet, shea butter, mango butter, peanut butter, pumpkin butter, apple butter, and seed butter are also suitable. All of them are dairy-free and you can safely add them to your meals in moderate amounts.
Can I eat chocolate on the vegan diet?
Yes, you can eat dark chocolate, but it is important to pore over the labels to make sure the manufacturer didn’t add any non-vegan ingredients. Healthy dark chocolate ingredients are sugar, cocoa butter, liqueur, and vanilla.
In conclusion, the answer to the question “Is cocoa butter vegan?” is yes it absolutely is. You can safely include it in your diet. But keep in mind that everything is good in moderation. Cocoa butter is high in fat, and consuming it in big amounts will increase your calorie intake and might result in weight gain. Remember that if you have questions concerning adjustments in your diet, lifestyle, or training sessions, it is always better to consult a healthcare professional.
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This article is intended for general informational purposes only and does not address individual circumstances. It is not a substitute for professional advice or help and should not be relied on to make decisions of any kind. Any action you take upon the information presented in this article is strictly at your own risk and responsibility!
- Cocoa Bioactive Compounds: Significance and Potential for the Maintenance of Skin Health (2014, mdpi.com)
- Cocoa Polyphenols and Their Potential Benefits for Human Health (2012, ncbi.nhl.nih.gov)
- Oil, cocoa butter (2018, fdc.nal.usda.gov)
- Snapshot: Few Americans Vegetarian or Vegan (2018, news.gallup.com)
- The vegan diet (2018, nhs.uk)
- What are the benefits of cocoa butter? (2019, medicalnewstoday.com)
- What are the health benefits of dark chocolate? (2019, medicalnewstoday.com)
- What Is a Vegan Diet? (2019, webmd.com)
- What to know about vegan diets (2020, medicalnewstoday.com)