Top Cocoa Powder Benefits + Side Effects

By Adriane Marie •  Updated: 11/11/22 •  12 min read

What are cocoa powder benefits and side effects every ethical consumer must know? Here are cocoa powder pros and cons and how buying them will impact your health, the environment, animals and laborers. 

cocoa powder benefits and side effects

Food is something we consume every day. If you’re like me, you do all the research you can to make sure you don’t hurt yourself, the planet, animals or others when shopping. As an ethical consumer myself, I am giving you all the info I’ve found on cocoa powder benefits and side effects.

You are going to learn all about cocoa powder benefits and side effects. This will include cocoa powder benefits for your health and potential risks, cocoa powder water footprint and carbon footprint, sustainability, if cocoa powder is vegan or impact animals in other ways, and much more. 

After learning if cocoa powder is good or bad for you, the environment, animals and human rights, you will be able to make the best choices you can the next time you buy food.

This post is all about cocoa powder benefits and side effects that every ethical consumer should know.

Top Cocoa Powder Benefits And Side Effects


Energy: cocoa powder benefits may include blood thinning, brain function, feelings of calmness, improve blood flow, improve mood, reduce appetite, reduce stress, regulate blood sugar levels, treat asthma, treat depression

Longevity: cocoa powder benefits may include detoxification, diabetes management and prevention, fight and prevent cancer, heart health, improve cholesterol, lower blood pressure, lower the risk of heart attack and stroke, reduce LDL (bad) cholesterol, reduce inflammation

Appearance: cocoa powder benefits may include fight bacteria that causes cavities, healthy skin, skin hydration, weight loss

Cocoa powder is…


Water footprint: high, 15,636 liters of water used to produce 1 kilogram of cocoa powder / 1,874 gallons of water used to produce 1 pound of cocoa

Carbon footprint: low, 0.20 kg CO2e to produce 1 kilogram or 2.2 pounds of processed cocoa powder, a car driving equivalent of 0.5 miles or 0.75 kilometers

Destruction: high, cocoa powder production is relatively destructive, destruction of forests for cocoa in Ghana and The Ivory Coast, which is the largest exporter of cocoa at 2.2 million tons every year, Ivory Coast has lost 80 percent of forests in the past five decades, deforestation in other tropical forest growing regions, cocoa trees require significant land usage

Cocoa powder is…


Kills: none, cocoa bean production does not require any animals to die

Harms: none, cocoa bean production does not require any animals to be used

Indirectly kills or harms: wildlife and ecosystems, heavy deforestation occurs to make way for cocoa trees, which is devastating to wildlife and ecosystems by destroying their habitats

Cocoa powder is…


Health and safety: hazardous, child trafficking is common, parents who cannot afford children sell them to employers, adult and child workers are exposed to toxic chemicals and pesticides and use sharp machetes that cause accidents leading to cuts, wounds and scars on their bodies

Living conditions: poor, reports of 2 million children subjected to child labor in Ghana and the Ivory Coast (the Ivory Coast produces more than a third of the world’s cocoa and over 70% of the world’s supply of cocoa comes from the two countries), children do not receive much food, wear old, worn clothing, usually never attend school, must work long hours

Wages: low, earnings are less than a few dollars per day, below-poverty wages, wages are so low adult workers do not want the jobs which forces employers to purchase trafficked children, child labor pays nothing to child workers, communities are caught in a cycle of poverty from being deprived of education

Cocoa powder has…

Where does most cocoa powder come from?

The world’s top cocoa bean producing country is Ivory Coast, followed by Ghana and Indonesia. The world’s top cocoa powder exporting country is Netherlands, followed by Germany, Spain, USA, Malaysia, France, Indonesia, Ghana, Estonia and Italy.

Is cocoa powder nutritious?

Cocoa powder contains flavanols, polyphenols, theobromine and theophylline and antioxidants and no sugar when unsweetened.

cocoa powder is acidic.

acidic foods and alkaline diet benefits that improve ph levels

Is cocoa powder alkaline or acidic? Cocoa powder is acidic. What is the pH level of cocoa powder? Cocoa powder has a 4.5 pH level unsweetened, once digested.

When you eat food, it breaks down to an ash residue that can be neutral, acidic or alkaline. Minerals such as potassium, calcium, magnesium, sodium, zinc, silver, copper and iron produce an alkaline ash; whereas sulfur, phosphorus, chlorine and iodine, which are in meat, coffee, dairy and alcohol, leave an acid ash.

Going alkaline easier than ever with this: Acidic and Alkaline Foods List

cocoa powder is gluten free.

glutinous foods have side effects but a gluten free diet can help

Is cocoa powder gluten free? Yes, cocoa powder is gluten free. Cocoa powder does not contain gluten.

While celiac disease may not be as rampant as many marketing trends lead us to believe, you may have a gluten sensitivity…

Celiac and gluten sensitivity symptoms are similar and may include:

There are hundreds of potential symptoms, many of which are also symptoms of other conditions.

Check It Out! – Going gluten-free easier than ever with this: Gluten and Gluten Free Foods List

cocoa powder is not a common food allergen.

side effects of common food allergens like milk, wheat, soy, fish, tree nuts, peanuts, eggs and crustaceans

Is cocoa powder a common food allergen? No, cocoa powder is not a common food allergen. Some people may experience allergic reactions to cocoa powder but it is relatively rare by comparison.

A group of the eight major allergenic foods, AKA the Big-8, include:

These foods account for about 90% of all food allergies in the United States.

Severe food allergies can be life threatening. Following ingestion of a food allergen, a person with food allergies can experience a severe, life-threatening allergic reaction called anaphylaxis. 

Persons may still be allergic to and have serious reactions to foods other than the eight foods identified by the law.

Check It Out! – Be aware of common dietary restrictions and food allergens with this: The Big 8 Most Common Food Allergens List

cocoa powder has a high water footprint.

water footprints of food and products

Does cocoa powder have a high or low water footprint? Cocoa powder has a relatively high water footprint compared to other foods.

What is the water footprint of cocoa powder? It takes 15,636 liters of water to produce 1 kilogram of cocoa powder / 1,874 gallons of water to produce 1 pound of cocoa.

Did you know that water is a finite, non-renewable resource?

We must do what we can to conserve fresh water and a major way to reduce needless water consumption is to change the way we eat. That’s not to say we need to reduce our water intake…quite the opposite. It’s important for our health to drink lots of water and eat foods that hydrate. The kind of water conservation we’re talking about here is behind the scenes.

How much water does it take to produce an apple? A serving of rice? A steak dinner?

We need to be aware of “water footprints”. That is, the amount of fresh water utilized in the production or supply of goods we consume. As it turns out it takes significantly more water to yield foods that come from animals than foods that come from plants. Imagine how much water a cow needs to consume to generate a piece of beef. Not only how much water a single cow drinks, rather all the water that went into producing the crops that the cow ate.

Find out how much water your food consumes with this: Water Footprints of Foods and Ingredients List

cocoa powder has a low carbon footprint.

carbon footprints of food and food emissions

Does cocoa powder have a high or low carbon footprint? Cocoa powder has a relatively low carbon footprint compared to other foods.

What is the carbon footprint of cocoa powder? It takes around 0.20 kg CO2e to produce 1 kilogram or 2.2 pounds of processed cocoa powder, a car driving equivalent of 0.5 miles or 0.75 kilometers

Food not only has a water footprint but also a carbon footprint, known as CO2e, which stands for carbon dioxide equivalent. Since carbon measurements are a bit more difficult to comprehend, it is common to equate CO2e to the distance which a car drives in miles or kilometers.

When calculating carbon emissions, some factors may include…

There are a number of steps we can take to reduce energy output. According to Oxford Martin School researchers, if the world went vegan, eliminating animal-derived products, it could reduce greenhouse gas emissions by two thirds and avoid climate damages of $1.5 trillion.

It’s best to keep the following in mind when grocery shopping:

Check It Out! – Find out how much carbon your food emits with this: Carbon Footprints of Foods and Ingredients List

cocoa powder is unsustainable.

sustainable shopping, for eco friendly brands and products good for the environment

Overall, are cocoa powder eco friendly? Are cocoa powder sustainable?

Cocoa powder production is relatively unsustainable due to high carbon footprint and high water footprint. Additionally, cocoa bean production destroys forests for cocoa in Ghana and The Ivory Coast, which is the largest exporter of cocoa at 2.2 million tons every year. Ivory Coast has lost 80 percent of forests in the past five decades. Deforestation occurs in other tropical forest growing regions. Cocoa trees also require significant land usage.

A 2018 Oxford University study – which is the most comprehensive analysis to date of the damage farming does to the planet – found that ‘avoiding meat and dairy is the single biggest way to reduce your impact on Earth’ as animal farming provides just 18% of calories but takes up 83% of our farmland.

Consuming animal products and byproducts is not environmentally friendly and is one of the worst things for the Earth. Not only is meat production wasteful, it causes enormous amounts of pollution. The industry is one of the biggest causes of climate change.

A 2010 United Nations report said that a global shift towards a vegan diet is vital to save the world the worst impacts of climate change.

Read more about ‘What Makes Food Sustainable Or Unsustainable?’

cocoa powder is vegan.

benefits of vegan food to eat on a vegan diet which helps save animals

Is cocoa powder vegan? Yes, cocoa powder is vegan. Cocoa powder is made from cocoa beans and not an animal product or byproduct, therefore making it a vegan food. 

Animals of factory farming are suffering. They live in horrific conditions that often include confinement, physical abuse and unnatural environments…so much so that they need to receive antibiotics to keep from getting ill or spreading disease. Growth hormones allow all kinds of animals to become fatter faster and live short lives.

Because we cannot see for ourselves how these animals live and what they endure does not mean it isn’t happening. The meat, poultry and dairy industries do everything they can to distance us from knowing how our food comes to be in order to keep us in the dark about what we support each time we buy animal derived products and byproducts.

Go vegan for animals!

It’s the best way to help animals and it’s not as difficult as you may think. Speak for animals with your actions, for they cannot speak at all.

Going vegan is easier than ever, at a glance with this: Vegan and Non-Vegan Foods List

cocoa powder may have labor issues and human rights concerns.

benefits of buying fair trade, labor rights, human rights and workers rights issues

Is cocoa powder a product with labor concerns? At this time there are major concerns with cocoa powder. It’s important to stay aware of human rights concerns and worker exploitation that may come with specific brands.

Did you know the single largest employer in the world is agriculture? The labor involved behind each and every product cannot go unrecognized. 

Sadly, many labor concerns exist around the world in both developed and developing countries. We must be vigilant to ensure what we buy is not contributing to industries that are unfair to their valuable workers. Some known problems include workplace health and safety, child labor, gender inequality, inadequate pay, wage theft and exploitation. Workers can even experience harassment, humiliation and violence and unfair employers often fail to provide laborers with access to shade, drinking water, restrooms and breaks. Consequently, laborers can face nausea, dizziness, heat exhaustion, dehydration and heat stroke -the leading cause of farmworker death! 

Such mistreatment is like modern day slavery. Workers are often afraid to report issues because they fear it will result in losing their jobs or deportation. 

Fair trade organizations fight to ensure better social, environmental and economic standards. 

We can improve people’s lives with foods we eat every day simply by buying products that are certified fair trade. 

Be sure to read up on this list of ‘Foods You Should Always Buy Fair Trade

This post was all about cocoa powder benefits and side effects.


International labor rights forum: The chocolate industry has a century-long history of forced and child labor in the production of cocoa

Global Citizen: The 6 Worst Foods To Buy If You Care About Humanity

Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations: Promote inclusive and sustainable economic growth, employment and decent work for all

Foodprint: Labor and Workers in the Food System

Adriane Marie

Hi, I'm Adriane, creator of HEALabel! I organize info for you to comprehensively see how purchases impact health, environment, animals and laborers. Stay aware because you care! Subscribe below to get my weekly newsletter with tips, new info and other ethical consumer insight.