Although cacao is not a well known name in North America, it is really the primary raw ingredient for making chocolate. To ensure you are getting the healthiest chocolate in the store look for the percentage of cacao in the bar to be between 70-85%, and limit other unsavoury ingredients like dairy, sugar, and soy (it is often difficult to eliminate all 3, but look to eliminate the dairy in the very least).
Raw cacao is very bitter and very few people would eat it without some kind of sweetener added. For most, it makes chocolate completely undesirable, and we don’t want to eliminate this superfood from our diet altogether as it does have many health benefits. So make the best choice you can, and cozy up to a nice piece of chocolate and feel good about it for these 5 reasons.
High in antioxidants
Raw cacao has an incredibly high ORAC (Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity) score, due to organic compounds that are biologically active and function as antioxidants. With a score of around 21,000, it ranks in the top 3 of foods in the high antioxidant list.
Antioxidants are important as they prevent the build up of free radicals, which tend to slowly deteriorate our health. You can think of them as “anti-aging” compounds, so eating healthier pieces of chocolate can actually slow down ageing! Need I say more?
Rich in minerals
Mineral deficiencies are a serious concern, but thankfully, good chocolate can help remedy that issue as long as it is clean and devoid of dairy and GMO ingredients (like soy). Some minerals you can expect to get with a good piece of chocolate include (based on a 100 gram bar of dark chocolate that is 70-85% cocoa):
Iron (67% of RDA)
Magnesium (58% of RDA)
Copper (89% of RDA)
Manganese (98% of RDA)
It also contains generous amounts of zinc, phosphorus, potassium, selenium, and calcium.
Whether you are in a good mood or a bad mood, chocolate seems to fit the bill in both circumstances. This may be due to its ability to improve cognitive function, and by raising levels of “happy chemicals” like serotonin, endorphins, phenylethylamine, and anadamide.
Regardless of the scientific reasoning, few can deny the happiness that a good piece of chocolate can bring, and that’s a good thing!
Good for cardiovascular health
Chocolate wrapped up in heart shaped packaging not only shows love for people close to us, but also symbolizes one of chocolate’s relatively unknown benefits for proper cardiovascular functioning. Due to the chemical make up of cacao, you can expect a good piece of chocolate to help promote blood flow, lower blood pressure, and improve cholesterol levels.
The key behind all these benefits is the raw, organic form of chocolate, known as cacao. So to ensure you get your fix of chocolate and reap all the health benefits that can be acquired, ensure that you look for chocolate that contains 70-85% cacao, or craft your own chocolate masterpiece using organic cacao and limiting the offensive ingredients.
I’ll help you get started. Try this Coconut Brownie Recipe which is loaded with cacao and other superfoods, easy to make, and simply delicious!
Sources for this article include: