Most of us have an inseparable relationship with chocolate and is an integral part of our daily life, and it should be. Yes, you heard me right. Consuming chocolate is very healthy!
It is important to understand your chocolate flavors and how beneficial they are for your body, so you can enjoy your sweet treat guilt-free. Grabbing a chocolate bar will do no good to your body, but you can substitute this with cacao powder that’s sure to benefit you.
Cacao Vs Cocoa
Cacao and cocoa powders are both derived from the same fruit and both are complex foods containing in excess of 300 chemically distinct compounds. They are considered as super foods.
Both are produced by grinding up cocoa nibs down to a liquor or paste and then removing the cocoa butter (fat). After that they make them into the powder. The difference is in the way they remove the cocoa butter. One is removed by cold-pressing and the other by high temperature. Cocoa is roasted and cacao is not. The high temperatures that cocoa is subjected to reduce the antioxidant level, therefore raw cacao is more beneficial to the human body for certain things.
How is Chocolate made?
But are raw cacao or cocoa powder actually chocolate? Chocolate is made by heating the cacao beans, grinding them into a liquor, adding sugar and fat.
This can destroy the beneficial enzymes and antioxidants and of course add to weight gain and yeast over growth.
But you can get an amazing flavor of chocolate by adding raw cacao to your whey smoothies with coconut sugar and /or stevia and you will feel like you’re on cloud nine. You can also add a bit of natural peanut butter to or throw in a frozen banana, and there’s healthy and yummy, both in one!
What are the benefits of Raw Cacao Powder?
• Rich in antioxidants – Raw cacao actually has one of the highest antioxidant levels of all foods containing more antioxidants per 100 grams than goji berries, acai berries or blueberries. Antioxidants neutralize the free radicals in the body which can damage DNA and cause aging and even the formation of certain cancers.
• Contains important flavonoids – Raw cacao contains two flavonoids – epicatechin and catechin. Flavonoids are a group of phytonutrients in the chemical category of polyphenols. They are some of the world’s healthiest foods and best known for their antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties and they help support the detoxification process.
Foods high in epicatechin and catechin have been found to have protective effects towards cardiovascular disease and also protective benefits towards the skin.
• Excellent for brain health – Cacao powders contain the neurotransmitters dopamine and phenylethylamine which greatly help mood and mental alertness. It also contains tryptophan which helps with depression and it contains anandamine which stimulates the feeling of love. On top of that it is a true aphrodisiac. This is a super brain food!
• Full of minerals – Raw cacao is full of minerals such as magnesium, iron, phosphorous, zinc, copper, sulpher and potassium. Sulpher foods are great for detoxification.
• Contains Nitric oxide – Raw cacao boosts the body’s nitric oxide so it is great for circulation and the arteries. For the men, this helps cause erection.
• Contains Maca – Maca is great for increasing your testosterone levels and testosterone is your happy hormone. Maca is necessary for both men and women.
A word of caution when consuming raw cacao: go low on the dose and take a break from it by skipping days. It is very powerful and also relatively high in phytic acid which binds with calcium, magnesium and zinc in the digestive tract making them less available to our bodies.
Some have said that since it is a stimulant it can agitate kidney’s and may affect sleep.There has been talk about it being addictive. While none of these claims have been studied or verified it is good to understand both sides and treat this as you would a medicine or herbal and use it with caution listening carefully to your body.