The cacao plant is a tree native to North, Central, and South America. It produces a fruit that contains a sweet pulp and dozens of soft seeds that range in color from pale lavender to dark purple. The cocoa butter extracted from the seeds is used commercially to manufacture a variety of products, including chocolate, cosmetics, pharmaceuticals, and soaps.
This edible vegetable fat, also called theobroma oil, cacao butter, or cacao oil, is pale yellow in color. It contains high levels of oleic, palmitic, and stearic acid, which are all powerful antioxidant compounds. Arachidic, linoleic, and palmitoleic acid are also present in smaller percentages.
This fat is highly stable at room temperature, which decreases the likelihood of it becoming rancid. Its shelf life is estimated to be between two and five years. It has a low melting point of between 93 and 101 degrees Fahrenheit.
The antioxidant compounds in this oil reduce oxidative stress on cells throughout the body by neutralizing free radicals. This is especially true in skin cells. This makes it helpful for reducing the signs of age marks and wrinkles. When used topically it promotes skin health and can help reduce the appearance of stretch marks and scars.
This substance is also effective for reducing skin inflammation whether used topically or ingested in chocolate. Its soothing qualities make it good for treating skin rashes, eczema, and psoriasis. It forms a protective barrier between skin and various internal and environmental agents that cause irritation. As a moisturizer, it is particularly effective for smoothing rough skin on the elbows and knees.
Many manufacturers of hair care products add this fat to their products for its ability to improve hair strength and appearance. It provides moisture without weighing hair down. As a pomade, it makes frizzy hair easier to tame and it can also be used as a hot oil treatment for most hair types. It promotes hair follicle health, which can help reduce hair loss.
All of the calories in this oil come from fat. One ounce contains approximately 250 calories. It is a rich source of vitamin K, which is an essential nutrient that plays a role in regulating blood clotting and assisting calcium transport throughout the body.
This oil provides numerous health benefits whether individuals use it as a topical ointment or consume it with a healthy diet. Although it is edible, this oil contains a high amount of calories. People who are worried about controlling weight should limit consumption.