Long hailed in ancient traditions as a beauty food, Cacao has many health promoting
properties when consumed in its raw state. Cacao contains naturally occurring chemicals which can boost metabolism, increase energy and stamina, and reverse aging, however these qualities are only effective when it is eaten in its raw, unheated and untreated state. The moment it goes through heat processing, all key nutritional benefits are greatly reduced. A typical chocolate bar contains processed sugar, added fat, colorings, preservatives, and many other artificial chemicals, so don’t reach for a regular chocolate bar to get cacao’s benefits! Look for raw cacao, either in powder or in nibs.
Nutrition: Cacao (raw chocolate) is a nutrient dense addition to the diet, containing Vitamins A, B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, Vitamin C, Vitamin E, Copper, Calcium, Manganese, Zinc, Sulphur, Iron, Phosporus, and more. Cacao contains the highest source of magnesium and chromium of any food. Magnesium is the most deficient mineral in the average person. The antioxidant content of raw cacao benefits the cardiovascular and general whole body health. Antioxidants such as epichatehins, chatechins, resveratrol and procyanidins are present in much higher levels than you would find in a processed chocolate bar.
Raw chocolate contains the highest antioxidant levels of any food in the world. Its levels are 10 times higher than popular antioxidant foods such as red wine, green tea, and blueberries.
Cacao also contains compounds called phytochemicals that are beneficial to the body:
- Anandamide – promotes feelings of bliss
- Seratonin – regulates mood, appetite, and sleep
- Dopamine – boosts pleasure and motivation
- MAO Inhibitors prevent the re-uptake of serotonin and dopamine
- Coumarin – appetite suppressant, blood thinner and anti-tumor properties
- Asparaginase – enzyme that has anti-leukemia properties
- Ergosterol -precursor to vitamin D
- Sitosterol – decreases LDL cholesterol
Dr. Gabriel Cousens conducted a study on the health benefits of chocolate in February of 2008 and discovered was that raw cacao benefits diabetics as a safe food since it raises blood sugar less than almost any other food and also increases insulin sensitivity.
Uses: Try using raw cacao powder in smoothies and desserts; cacao nibs make a great addition to trail mix.
Dr Sal’s Thoughts:
I don’t know where I would be if it wasn’t for Cacao. I have always loved just about anything with a chocolate taste. With Cacao you get the best of both worlds, that wonderful chocolatey taste in a powerhouse nutrient. As you might have guessed, it is a favorite ingredient in both my energy bar and protein bar and my post-workout smoothie. I use the powder to mix into my smoothies and I use both the powder and nibs when I make my bars.
Buy raw cacao powder at shopOrganic.