The heath benefits of Raw Cocao vs Cocoa
Do you love to eat chocolate? Did you know that we can eat good quality chocolate (raw cacao) and reap the benefits of having a treat especially at Easter time.
Here’s a little background about the health benefits of raw cacao and why we should avoid cocoa! Cocoa is the ingredient that is readily available in the supermarket cooking, sweets and hot chocolate isle. You can purchase organic raw cacao in the health food section or order online.
Raw cacao is somewhat different from the common “Cocoa” most of us grew up eating and drinking. Cacao (pronounced “cu-COW”) refers to the Theobroma Cacao tree from which Cocoa is derived, and is used when referring to unprocessed versions of the cacao bean.
What we grew up drinking and cooking with, cocoa powder and chocolate has been chemically processed and roasted, which destroys a large amount of the antioxidants and flavanols (anti-ageing goodies). A recent study suggested that between 60% and 90% of the original antioxidants in cacao are lost through common “Dutch processing”. Dutch processing was originally developed in the early 19th Century to reduce the bitterness, darken the colour, and create a more mellow flavour to chocolate, but unfortunately also eliminated a bunch of the goodness.
Stay away from the cheap non-organic cocoa (and non-organic chocolate) as it has been treated heavily with toxic pesticides and fumigation chemicals, and may contain genetically modified (GMO) products.
Some history surrounding Cacao?
Cacao is made from the seeds of the Theobroma cacao tree which is native to South America. Theobroma is Greek for ‘Food of the Gods’, and rightly so, because these little seeds are what form the basis of chocolate!
Cacao is steeped in tradition, particularly in Mayan culture where it has been used as both food and as a form of currency. Maybe this is why consuming raw chocolate can feel so indulgent?
Why is Raw Cacao a 'Superfood'?
There are many, MANY health benefits to the very popular raw cacao, making it a true ‘superfood’ and a very good ingredient to have on hand. Interestingly, cacao retains its health benefits due to minimal or low-temperature processing. Here are some of the reasons raw cacao is so great (and delicious):
- Cacao is a powerful antioxidant. Antioxidants are required to reduce damage to free radicals (oxygen-containing molecules) within the body which causes oxidative stress and age-related illness and degeneration.
- Cacao is rich in B group vitamins, known for helping cognitive function, energy levels and overall cellular health.
- Cacao is a great source of magnesium, a much needed mineral in the body and one that is quite easily depleted. Magnesium is necessary for neurotransmitter function, calcium absorption, energy metabolism, protein synthesis, as well as strong teeth, bones and healthy muscles.
- Cacao contains theobromine, kind of like caffeine but a little less intense. Those sensitive to caffeine may tolerate this better. Theobromine can help to support cognition and may also support sleep quality and cardiovascular health.
- Cacao can make you feel good. It contains tryptophan (our precursor to serotonin) and phenylethylamine (PEA), which can release endorphins, our feel-good, happy hormones! It’s also a well-known aphrodisiac, making cacao an all-round feel-good food.
How to have your Raw Cacao
- Brew Up A Hot Chocolate Smoothie
Hot Chocolate Smoothie (serves 2)
2 cups Unsweetened Almond Milk or Coconut Milk
1 cup Frozen Cauliflower
1/2 cup Chocolate Protein Powder
1/4 cup Cocao Powder
2 tbsps Chia Seeds (leave out if you are following SIBO Biphasic - Phase 2)
1/4 tsp Sea Salt (optional, for topping)
- In a small saucepan over medium-low heat, add the almond milk. Bring to a simmer and then add to a blender.
- Add the remaining ingredients. Blend carefully, allowing space for the heat to escape, until smooth and creamy. Serve warm and enjoy!
- Iced Chocolate Smoothie
- Raw Cocao Bark and snacks
- Guilt Free Desserts
For more recipes please join my FREE Facebook Group - 'Digestive & Hormonal Freedom' as I'll have them posted in the recipe section.
Enjoy your organic raw cacao goodies as they are really beneficial to your health and they taste so good!
Yours in health and wellness,