Is cocoa butter good to eat?

Cocoa butter is a popular ingredient found in many foods and cosmetics. It comes from the cacao bean, which is used to make chocolate. Cocoa butter has a mild chocolate-like flavor and aroma. Many people enjoy eating foods containing cocoa butter, such as chocolate. But is cocoa butter itself good to eat? Here is an in-depth look at the nutrition, benefits, and potential downsides of eating cocoa butter.

What is Cocoa Butter?

Cocoa butter is the fat component of the cacao bean. It is extracted during the production of chocolate and cocoa powder. Pure cocoa butter is solid at room temperature due to its high saturated fat content. It melts at body temperature and has a creamy, rich texture.

Cocoa butter is composed mainly of fatty acids like:

  • Palmitic acid: 26%
  • Stearic acid: 35%
  • Oleic acid: 35%

These fatty acids in cocoa butter have several proposed health benefits which will be discussed later. In food, cocoa butter is commonly used as an ingredient in chocolate, chocolate syrups, baked goods, and confections.

In cosmetics, cocoa butter is a popular moisturizer and emollient included in products like lotions, creams, soaps, lip balms, and more. The rich fatty acids help hydrate and smooth skin while providing antioxidant benefits.

Nutrition Facts

Cocoa butter is 100% fat, providing 9 calories per gram. There are minimal cocoa solids remaining in pure cocoa butter.

A typical 1 tablespoon (14 grams) serving of cocoa butter provides:

  • Calories: 126
  • Fat: 14g
    • Saturated fat: 9g
    • Monounsaturated fat: 3g
    • Polyunsaturated fat: 1g

Cocoa butter contains no protein, carbs, fiber, sugar, or other micronutrients. Just pure concentrated fat from the cacao bean.

Benefits of Eating Cocoa Butter

Here are some of the top evidence-based benefits of consuming cocoa butter:

Rich in Antioxidants

Cocoa butter contains natural antioxidants like vitamin E, phospholipids, phytosterols, and phenolic compounds. These antioxidants help protect your cells from damage caused by free radicals.

Cocoa butter has higher antioxidant capacity compared to other fats like coconut oil and palm oil.

May Improve Cholesterol

The fatty acids in cocoa butter, especially stearic acid, may have beneficial effects on cholesterol levels.

Unlike other saturated fats, stearic acid does not raise LDL (bad) cholesterol levels in most people. Some research shows stearic acid lowers LDL while boosting HDL (good) cholesterol.

A study in 45 people found those who ate 1.5 ounces (42 grams) of dark chocolate with 31% cocoa butter for 4 weeks had decreased LDL cholesterol compared to a control group.

Anti-Inflammatory Properties

The antioxidant compounds in cocoa butter, like catechin and epicatechin, have anti-inflammatory properties. Chronic inflammation is at the root of many modern diseases.

Animal studies demonstrate cocoa butter can reduce inflammation in the colon, liver, and other tissues. More research is needed on its anti-inflammatory effects in humans.

Skin Health

Cocoa butter is an excellent moisturizer for your skin. It hydrates and provides antioxidant protection against free radicals that can damage skin.

Applying products with cocoa butter may improve skin elasticity and collagen production due to massaging and moisturizing effects.

A Natural Source of Fat

In moderation, cocoa butter can be part of a healthy diet as a natural source of fat. It provides fatty acids needed to absorb fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E, and K.

Cocoa butter is especially high in stearic and oleic acids, which are heart-healthy fats. Compared to other oils and butter, cocoa butter has a favorable fatty acid profile.

Safe for Most People

Pure cocoa butter without extra ingredients is fine for most people to eat in small amounts. It does not commonly cause food sensitivities or allergies.

People with chocolate or cocoa allergies can likely tolerate cocoa butter. But it’s best to check with your doctor if you have a chocolate allergy.

Downsides of Eating Cocoa Butter

Here are a few potential downsides to consider before eating cocoa butter:

High in Saturated Fat

Like coconut oil, cocoa butter is very high in saturated fat comprising 59% of its total fat content. It provides 9 grams of saturated fat per tablespoon (14 grams) serving.

While some types of saturated fats like stearic acid are under debate regarding their health effects, nutrition experts recommend limiting saturated fat intake. Replacing saturated fats with unsaturated fats is considered heart-healthy.

High Calorie

With 9 calories per gram, the calories in cocoa butter can add up quickly. Consuming cocoa butter straight or in large amounts may lead to unwanted weight gain over time.

It’s best to use cocoa butter in moderation as part of recipes and foods you already enjoy like chocolate.

May Cause Acne

There is some evidence that foods high in cocoa butter and chocolate may worsen breakouts and acne in those susceptible due to hormone changes.

One study had participants consume chocolate high in cocoa butter for 4 weeks. Acne lesions increased in people classified as acne-prone but did not change in non-acne prone people.

The causes behind diet and acne need more research. But some people may want to limit cocoa butter if it seems to affect their skin.


Though rare, cocoa butter can cause allergic reactions in those sensitive to cocoa products. Reactions range from mild rashes to life-threatening anaphylaxis.

If you have a chocolate or cocoa allergy, avoid cocoa butter until cleared by your doctor.

How To Eat Cocoa Butter

Here are some ways to start incorporating cocoa butter into your diet:


Use cocoa butter in place of other fats like oil, butter, and shortening in your favorite baked goods recipes. You can substitute it 1:1 for solid fats.

Cocoa butter works well in cookies, cakes, muffins, breads, pie crusts, and more to add moisture, richness, and mild chocolate flavor.


Add 1-2 teaspoons of melted cocoa butter into smoothies. The creaminess complements the flavors of bananas, chocolate, peanut butter, and coffee.

Fat Bombs

Blend cocoa butter into high-fat snacks along with ingredients like coconut, nuts, nut butters, seeds, and vanilla. Roll into balls and freeze for a sweet, low-carb fat bomb treat.

Homemade Chocolate

Making your own healthy chocolate treats is a delicious way to eat more cocoa butter. Melt with cocoa powder and natural sweeteners like maple syrup or honey.

As a Supplement

Cocoa butter supplements in softgel or liquid form provide an easy way to get concentrated amounts. Take up to 1-2 tablespoons daily.

Look for food-grade, non-deodorized cocoa butter. Avoid hydrogenated cocoa butter oil.

Skin Care

Apply cocoa butter lotion or body butter to moisturize while also getting mild amounts through absorption.

The Bottom Line

Cocoa butter is generally safe to eat and provides certain nutritional benefits. In small amounts, it can be part of a healthy diet and lifestyle for most people.

The antioxidants in cocoa butter provide anti-inflammatory protection. The fatty acids, especially stearic acid, may help support cholesterol levels.

However, the high calories and saturated fat content requires moderation. Limit cocoa butter if you are watching your weight or have been advised to limit saturated fats.

Cocoa butter makes a great occasional treat paired with fruit or desserts. But for daily use, unsweetened cocoa powder provides antioxidants without the high fat and calorie load.

Enjoy cocoa butter in balance as part of an overall nutritious diet.

Leave a Comment