Cacao is not a well known name to those not in the world of health, but mention chocolate and everyone is all ears. Cacao is the raw form of chocolate, and is often combined with sugar and dairy to create products that have people craving them at every glance. The healing benefits of cacao are substantial, but the key is to get it as pure as possible.
Cacao nutritional profile
Cocoa beans are the seeds of the fruit tree, Theobroma cacao, that grows in the shades of the rainforest right around the equator. All chocolate is made from cacao (cuh-cow), the edible part of the cocoa bean after it has been harvested, dried, fermented, and hulled.
Called “black gold” by the Spanish, cacao has been considered a beneficial medicine as it contains over 300 identifiable chemical compounds and is a very high source of antioxidants. Unfortunately, many of these beneficial properties are destroyed by cooking, processing, and refining. For example, studies have shown that dairy actually blocks the absorption of antioxidants in chocolate, which is present in most commercially produce chocolate products.
So what are the benefits of cacao? Check out the following nutritional profile:
- Good source of riboflavin, niacin, and folate
- Contains exceptional amounts of manganese, copper, magnesium, iron, phosphorus, zinc, and potassium. It is also a good source of selenium and calcium.
- Good source of dietary fibre
- Nice source of saturated fat
- Contains quercetin, flavonoids, flavanols, xanthenes, polyphenols, theobromine, and anandamide
- Contains one of the highest ORAC (antioxidant) scores of all foods
These benefits are dramatically increased when the cacao is as raw, pure, and unprocessed as possible.
Healing action of cacao
Due to it’s remarkable antioxidant content and over 300 chemical compounds, cacao can deliver some nice healing benefits, such as:
- Promotes blood flow and prevents coagulation that can result in heart attack or stroke
- Lowers blood pressure
- Reduces the risk of colorectal and colon cancer
- Helps reduce cell damage
- Helps prevent the onset of Alzheimer’s
- Improves sugar metabolism
- Supports weight loss
- Improves cognitive function
- Elevates mood and spirits by raising levels of serotonin, endorphins, phenylethylamine, and anadamide
Turns out you don’t need much to receive those benefits. Just an ounce of raw, pure, unprocessed cacao can deliver significant benefits.
How to use cacao in your diet
One of the easiest, but often least medicinal ways to get cacao in your diet is through chocolate bars and other commercially made chocolate products. When choosing a chocolate product, get those with the highest cacao content possible (up to 85%) with no dairy and very little sugar. Cacao is quite bitter, and you will notice that slight bitterness with higher quality chocolate products (you will come to appreciate it). You can also use cacao in:
So make sure to enjoy your cacao and its healing benefits, and be sure to limit your intake and make it as raw, pure, and unprocessed as possible, with no dairy and very little sugar. Your heart and mind will thank you for it.