I will start by saying that cacao and cocoa are not the same thing. Although yes, they are very closely related. The cacao tree is a wildly popular plant from which cocoa and chocolate are derived. Mercola tells readers that “Edible parts of cacao pods and the beans inside them can be processed to make cocoa powder, cocoa butter, or chocolate after being dried and fermented.”
So chocolate is made from cacao, surely that means that cacao is bad for us? After all, we have always been told that chocolate contains fat and sugar that is bad for our bodies, or teeth and should be avoided. But cacao is the unrefined, un-stripped version of cocoa. It contains a tons of nutrient and is especially rich in antioxidants which fight off free radicals from the body. No wonder it’s called a superfood. It also doesn’t contain the sugar so although it has the chocolate taste, it is also quite bitter like that of super dark dark chocolate.
Raw cacao powder contains more than 300 different chemical compounds and nearly four times the antioxidant power of your average dark chocolate – more than 20 times than that of blueberries. Protein, calcium, carotene, thiamin, riboflavin, magnesium, sulfur, flavonoids, antioxidants, and essential fatty acids are also present. – Mercola.
For the surprising benefits of cacao that all the chocolate lovers will be happy to know, keep reading:
1. 40 times the Antioxidants of Blueberries: Be Good Organics says “cacao has an amazing ORAC score of 98,000 per 100g, vs blueberries at a mere 2,400. ORAC scores measure the ability of antioxidants to absorb free radicals (that come from pollution and toxins in our environment), which cause cell and tissue damage and can lead to diseases such as cancer.”
2. Can balance hormonal mood swings: It is said to boost serotonin levels which drop dramatically for females during PMS. But cacao can boost brain calming hormones. It’s no wonder they tell us to eat chocolate during our time of the month (or why we crave it.)
3. All natural Anti-Depressant: Not only does cacao increase serotonin levels, it also increases levels of opamine, anandamide and phenylethylamine. These are neurotransmitters that are associated with feelings of wellbeing, happiness, and that can alleviate depression.
4. Improves the skin: Daily Superfood Love tells readers’ that people who consume cacao powder have better skin texture, improved microcirculation, increased oxygen saturation, and improved skin hydration than those didn’t.
5. High source of Iron & Magnesium: Magnesium is needed for heart health, it turns glucose into energy, improves brain function and clarity, and also improves focus. The iron within plant based sources is non-heme iron which is the best source of iron for the body to absorb and essentially deal with. For maximum benefits for iron absorption, consume with a source of vitamin C.
6. Prevents Pre-Mature Aging: Daily Superfood says “polyphenol antioxidants found in cacao belong to the same group of antioxidants as green tea. These anthocyanins (found in dark coloured fruits) and catechins (found in green tea) protect our cells from premature oxidation or destruction and can keep us looking and feeling younger longer.”
7. Helps fight diseases: Protects the heart, prevents cardiovascular disease, prevents blood clots, lowers blood pressure naturally, reduces insulin resistance, and also resets your metabolism.
Overall, cacao powder is just a great way to get a chocolate kick in a healthy way. It isn’t addictive like chocolate can be from the sugar content, and also doesn’t give an energy spike and crash. I love to add it into my porridge with some coconut sugar for some chocolate flavour and sweetness. YUM!
To find out any additional benefits, check out this blog post here.
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