Who doesn’t love chocolate? Considered one of the most addictive foods on the planet, chocolate has been widely used in all kinds of foods and desserts to add a feel good feeling. The widely available processed chocolate is not the best thing for you because of the added stimulants, sugar, and fat that come along with it and enhance its already potent addictive qualities. Raw cacao, however, which is chocolate in its raw form, is not only great for you, it’s considered a superfood because of a lengthy antioxidant, vitamin, and mineral profile. Cacao beans are grown on trees that originate in Mexico called Theobroma cacao, which in Greek literally means “food of the gods.” Each pod on the trees yields anywhere from forty to sixty cacao seeds. To make the processed chocolate that we know and love, cacao beans are roasted to form cocoa and then combined with ample amounts of sugar and fat. The roasting process is what strips cacao of its nutrients and minimizes the natural health benefits by reducing the levels of antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals readily available. Raw Cacao contains magnesium, calcium, sulfur, zinc, iron, copper, potassium, manganese, polyphenols or flavanoids (which have antioxidant properties), along with vitamins B1, B2, B3, B5, B9, and E. Add to all of this a little protein, fiber, and oleic acid, a monosaturated fat that is essential for heart health and you’ve got yourself a bonafide superfood. You can consume raw cacao in the form of raw chocolate, or purchase a raw cacao powder and blend into smoothies. Below are some potential benefits of eating raw cacao, all of which can be used to justify your raw chocolate cookie monster like cravings. -XoXo Raw Girl
Chocolate contains more magnesium than any other food, which is great to note especially because deficiencies in magnesium are so common. Magnesium is one of the most powerful stress relieving minerals, so if your stressed and craving chocolate, your body is right on target to get what it needs. Magnesium is also integral to your bodies’ metabolic pathways; without it your food cannot be converted into energy and you may feel fatigued very often.
Beauty Food That Can Slow Aging.
Raw Cacao has more antioxidants than any food tested. In fact it has four to six times the antioxidants of roasted cacao, goji berries, acai berries, blueberries, dark processed chocolate, wine, and black and green teas. Antioxidants help to repair and resist damage from free radicals, and reduce signs of aging. Cacao is also high in the beauty mineral sulfur, which builds healthy nails and hair, promotes beautiful skin, detoxifies the liver, and supports a healthy pancreas.
Get Your Happy Fix.
Cacao raises the level of serotonin in the brain; thus acts as an anti-depressant, helps reduce PMS systems, promotes a sense of well-being, and helps increase focus and alertness. It also stimulates the secretion of endorphins, producing a pleasurable sensation similar to the “runner’s high” a jogger feels after running several miles. (Note: This is not an excuse to opt out of your morning run and indulge in chocolate instead.) Add to all of this phenylethylamine, which is found in chocolate, and also created within the brain and released when we are in love.
Protects Your Heart.
Studies have shown that chocolate offers protection from heart disease and stroke, and can assist in reducing blood pressure. Consuming cacao also helps dilate bloods vessels, reduce blood clotting, improve circulation, help regulate heartbeat, and lowers LDL cholesterol.
Boosts Recovery Time.
Studies have shown that cacao may help lower the oxidative stress of strenuous activities which helps athletes to recover. Which means that adding a bit of cacao powder to your post-workout shake is never a bad idea.