Pssst…It’s healthier than broccoli!!
When you think of nutrient-dense superfoods, what comes to mind? Freshly harvested organic kale, sun-ripened blueberries, ceremonial grade matcha green tea? You’re not wrong.
But did you know that there’s a superfood with a nutritional profile in a league of its own?
And when it comes to antioxidants, no known food on the planet matches the antioxidant content of this superfood?
We’re talking about raw cacao.
We all know the benefits of antioxidants, which span across everything from healthy aging to disease prevention. Raw cacao happens to be one of your best options to get a generous amount of antioxidants into your body.
If the anti-aging and anti-inflammatory benefits of antioxidants in raw cacao don’t have you wanting your fair share of this plant-based superfood, know that raw cacao is a beautifully complex (and delicious!) food filled with a synergistic blend of antioxidants along with fiber, minerals and phytonutrients.
Have your chocolate and eat it too with these amazing raw cacao health benefits!
1. Raw cacao makes you happy
There’s a scientific reason why chocolate is the go-to comfort food for many people. The stuff makes you feel happy!
Briefly going into the science, raw cacao contains the following brain-boosting chemicals responsible for giving you that distinct chocolate “high.”
- Anandamide: this is a naturally occurring chemical found in raw cacao that promotes feelings of contentment, so much so scientists have called it ‘the bliss molecule’.
- Oxytocin: Raw cacao stimulates your neurotransmitters to release the ‘love hormone’, oxytocin. This hormone makes you feel happy and connected with loved ones.
- Phenethylamine: PEA, otherwise known as the ‘love chemical’ acts as a catalyst to releasing endorphins and dopamine, both of which contribute to your sense of happiness.
2. Raw cacao is rich in antioxidants
Where antioxidants are concerned, the more the merrier! As mentioned earlier, raw cacao, gram per gram, contains the highest amount of antioxidants among any given food. To give you an idea, check out the chart below comparing some commonly known foods that have a high ORAC (Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity) value and how raw cacao fares.
Apart from being an antioxidant powerhouse, raw cacao contains a type antioxidant called Flavanols. This particular antioxidant has been linked to numerous health benefits ranging from heart health to increased insulin sensitivity.
3. Rich in magnesium
Raw cacao is rich in magnesium, the mineral superstar that’s known to promote relaxation, sound sleep, insulin sensitivity, and a catalyst of hundreds of biochemical reactions in your body.
4. Rich in sulfur
Research done in Seoul National University found that the sulfur found in raw cacao supported skin hydration and promoted higher levels of collagen for overall skin, nail and hair health.
5. Raw cacao promotes a healthy gut
If you follow a plant-based diet, we’re sure you’ve noticed just how much your gut health is thanking you for it. Raw cacao is a plant-based food that’s no exception for your gut health. Yes, you can have chocolate that your gut will thank you for!
This is because raw cacao contains fiber that feeds your good gut bacteria and healthy vegan fat that helps promote overall healthy intestinal flora.
Not All Chocolate Is Made The Same
To our palette’s pleasure, there’s a whole world of chocolate out there. But, like every food, they’re not created equally. Growing, harvesting, transporting and ultimately processing, drastically changes the quality of a single ingredient, even if it falls under the same name.
This is relevant for chocolate because it’s one of the most misunderstood ingredients out there.
You can find chocolate on the label of a product as ‘cacao’ or ‘cocoa’. These terms are more than spelling inconsistencies. Although both cacao and cocoa are ingredients for chocolate and both come from the bean pods of the Theobroma Cacao tree, that is where their similarities end.
The Difference Between Cocoa And Cacao
It all comes down to processing.
Although coming from the same tree, cacao and cocoa are worlds apart once processed:
Cocoa: Cocoa is processed cacao beans and what you commonly find in mass produced chocolate products.
After cacao beans are harvested, they are roasted at high temperatures and mixed in with other ingredients such as sugars and emulsifiers to make cocoa.
Not only does the roasting process kill the nutritional value of the cacao bean, the addition of other chemicals and ingredients is what gives chocolate products a bad reputation.
It’s not just the highly-processed, nutrient-dead version of chocolate itself… But the added artificial ingredients alongside commonly used ingredients such as milk and refined sugar.
Cacao: Cacao, on the other hand, is made of minimally processed cacao beans, thus keeping the integrity of this superfoods nutrient profile.
Depending on your source, cacao, or raw cacao, is simply fermented, sundried, or ground into powder. Nothing is added or removed just as nature intended!
When it comes to chocolate, know the difference between cocoa and cacao, and always opt for the latter. Your body (and taste buds) will thank you for it!
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